Rayner (company)

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Rayner based in Brighton & Hove East Sussex is a British manufacturer of intraocular lenses and associated surgical instruments. With Sir Harold Ridley, they were pioneers in the field from 1949 when Ridley successfully implanted the first intraocular lens (IOL) at St Thomas' Hospital, London.

The Origin of the Company[edit]

The story of the Rayner Company begins in 1910, when Mr John Baptiste Reiner and Mr Charles Davis Keeler opened their first optician’s shop at No 9, Vere Street, London, England. They registered their company as Reiner & Keeler Ltd on 30 October 1910. Before forming the company, J.B. Reiner had completed an apprenticeship in 'the art of an optician and scientific instrument maker' in 1891 and had gone on to work for E.B. Merrowitz Ltd, a branch of a well-known American optical company.

In 1915, during the First World War, the company name was changed to Rayner & Keeler Ltd. This was almost certainly a commercial decision of the time as J. B. Reiner retained his name all his life.

The two founding directors separated in 1917 when C. D. Keeler resigned and severed all his interests with the Company.

The first intraocular lens and Rayner's association with Ridley[edit]

In 1948, Mr Harold Ridley, consultant ophthalmologist at St Thomas' Hospital and Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, together with John Pike of Rayner met privately to discuss a new project. Pike, a director of Rayner and their senior optical specialist, had assisted Ridley with several projects, most recently on the development of electronic ophthalmoscopy. Ridley called his new project the artificial lenticulus project and asked Pike for Rayner’s help in the design and manufacture of an implantable lens.

In David Apple’s article from the January 1996 issue of Survey of Ophthalmology, Ridley recalls ‘...After months of secret thought, I called my friend John Pike, the optical scientist at Rayners of London with whom I had recently worked on electronic ophthalmoscopy. I suggested that we meet in my car after completing our routine duties that day. So it came about that two men sitting in a car in Cavendish Square one evening devised all the principles of a new operation.’[1]

Perspex was chosen as the preferred material because of its lightness in weight and good optical properties. Also observations during the war of eye injuries to RAF personnel had shown that Perspex appeared inert within body tissues. Perspex was registered in 1934 by ICI as the trademark for their polymethylmethacrylate acrylic sheet. In the late 1930s, as a result of Britain’s rearmament programme, ICI’s total production of Perspex was reserved for the aircraft industry and the material was specifically developed for the use of fighter aircraft. The required properties of transparency, strength and resistance to heat demanded a high degree of purity and polymerisation. The post war commercial development of Perspex had resulted in a quite different material from that of the war years but, to ICI’s credit, led by Dr John Holt they again produced the high quality fighter aircraft Perspex which they called Transpex I.

On 29 November 1949, at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, Ridley performed the first IOL operation on the eye of a 45-year-old female patient. The operation was conducted in secret, done in two stages with the artificial lens permanently implanted three months later.

Rayner in the USA[edit]

In 1952 the first IOL implant was performed in the United States, a Ridley-Rayner lens was implanted at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia. Surgeons Turgut Hamdi MD and Warren Reese MD implanted a series of these lenses – some with good visual function results (reported in a review by Dr Charles Letocha in the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery in 1999).[2]

A lens designed by Ridely's pupil Peter Choyce was the first to be approved as "safe and effective" and approved for use in the USA by the Food and Drug Administration in 1981. These first FDA approved lenses, (Choyce Mark VIII and Choyce Mark IX Anterior Chamber lenses) were manufactured by Rayner.

The Rayner C-flex injectable IOL is approved since May 2007 by the FDA.

Developments in this century[edit]

On 21 April 2009 the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise was awarded to Rayner Intraocular Lenses Limited in recognition of sustained international trade in overseas markets. Also in 2009 Rayner celebrated 60 years of continuous manufacturing and sales of intraocular lenses.

Rayner is the only British manufacturer of IOLs: all its intraocular lenses are made at its Sackville Road manufacturing facility in Hove, East Sussex. However, the company is building a new global HQ and manufacturing facility in Worthing, due to complete in 2015.[3] The plant will include a new generation of manufacturing equipment from companies such as GB Innomech to improve process efficiencies and more than double manufacturing capacity.[4]

On 2 December 2009 in the House of Commons, during Prime Minister's Questions, the sixtieth anniversary of the IOL was mentioned (and recorded in Hansard):[5]

Ms Celia Barlow (Hove) (Lab): Will the Prime Minister join me in marking 60 years since the British surgeon Sir Harold Ridley commissioned my Hove company, Rayner Opticians, to produce the first intraocular lens? Will he also congratulate the company on receiving the Queen's Award for Enterprise on Friday, and on the fact that it still works with charities across the world in restoring sight?
The Prime Minister: In my hon. Friend's constituency, there are many excellent companies, and one of them is Rayner. I want to congratulate all those who have contributed to the success of ophthalmic medicine over the past few years. The inventions that have come from Britain are truly wonderful. We should be very proud of our British scientists and engineers, but also very proud of our medical researchers and medical firms.

On 1 February 2014 the high street retail business of Rayner Opticians was bought by Vision Express from JBR1910 Limited.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ridley and the Invention of the Intraocular Lens. David J. Apple MD, and John Sims MD SURVEY OF OPHTHALMOLOGY VOLUME 40 • NUMBER 4 • JANUARY-FEBRUARY 1996
  2. ^ Follow-up of 3 patients with Ridley intraocular lens implantation (Letocha and Pavlin, JCRS – Vol 25, April 1999)
  3. ^ Dan Cain “Hi-tech business will create jobs and ‘boost economy” Worthing Herald website Checked 12 Mar 2015.
  4. ^ Jason Ford “GB Innomech to design and develop automated manufacturing equipment for Rayner” MWP Advanced Manufacturing website Checked 12 Mar 2015.
  5. ^ http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmhansrd/cm091202/debtext/91202-0003.htm
  • Ridley and the Invention of the Intraocular Lens. David J. Apple MD, and John Sims MD SURVEY OF OPHTHALMOLOGY VOLUME 40 • NUMBER 4 • JANUARY-FEBRUARY 1996
  • Follow-up of 3 patients with Ridley intraocular lens implantation. Letocha and Pavlin, JCRS – Vol 25, April 1999

External links[edit]