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“The Man with an Eye for Detail”:

“The Man with an Eye for Detail”:

Steve Graham retires after a remarkable 48 years

Steve Graham

It’s not for the longevity of service that we wanted to recognise and celebrate Steve’s contribution to optics – specifically for contact lenses – but for his contribution over this period of time with a single company; Madden & Layman / Bausch & Lomb (pre- and post- the B&L acquisition of M&L).

When Steve started in 1975 as Lab Technician manufacturing PMMA contact lenses, Derby County FC were celebrating winning the Football First Division, West Ham FC (Steve’s team) had just won the FA Cup for the second time and “MUD” were at Number One in the pop music charts with “Oh Boy”.

Steve recalls hist first day at work and still has the vivid memory of the acrid smell of Silvo polish, which was used to polish the PMMA lenses. These lenses generated on an adapted Myford lathe. Steve helped process the hand-written orders for customers.

Steve acknowledged that his career would not have been possible without the opportunities afforded to him by Peter Madden and Randolph Layman in the early years and the encouragement of Gerry Cahill and others. Working alongside inspirational figures including Alan Walker (many would have attended the Alan Walker Memorial Lectures supported by ACLM and delivered annually then by world-renowned keynote speakers, Jonathan Walker; then Scientific Officer BCLA, Prof. Brian Holden, Prof. Lyndon Jones, Prof. Phillip B. Morgan etc.).

Steve further said that he owed a debt of gratitude to giants in optics, such as Keith Edwards (BCLA medal recipient), Dr Perry Rosenthal and Tony Hough among many other significant oculists.

Steve held various manufacturing roles and became Lab Supervisor in 1982 (two years after West Ham FC won their third FA Cup). He was able to mentor others in a coaching capacity, helping develop the next generation of specialist contact lens manufacturing technicians.

The late 70’s and early 80’s were truly an exciting time to be immersed in the contact lens industry, with the introduction of more sophisticated lens designs which could now be produced on CNC lathes, together with the expanding portfolio of technically superior RGP materials – truly a Quantum™ leap.

Quality Manager 1989 to 2011 and with the introduction of regulations defining contact lenses as medical devices, Steve helped lead a team to become the first UK Manufacturer of gas-permeable contact lenses and be awarded CE mark certification.

Steve’s contribution to this business has been pivotal over the decades. Not only significantly helping to continuously improve the                             quality of the products produced but to increase productivity in tandem. These attributes are a very valuable skill set indeed and speaks much to the legacy Steve has left as he begins his retirement.

Steve believes that:

“…with soft lenses now dominating the contact lens market, we have today a situation where gas permeable lens fitting is a specificality in the hands of the skilled practitioner with the coming of sophisticated scleral lenses for therapeutic use and OrthoK lenses required to manage the myopia epidemic.

For the future, my belief is that we will experience further revolutions in contact lenses, through a combination of AI and 3D printing.

I leave the contact lens industry after 48 years feeling privileged to have been able to make a small contribution and thank those who helped me on my full and enjoyable journey.”

Steve, we thank you and wish you a long and happy retirement; my goodness, you have earned it.

Image:courtesy of the Natural History Museum

Acknowledgements to content from Nick Loan Past President of BCLA and ACLM 

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