CONTACT LENS HISTORY
THE OVERSEAS PIONEERS
George William Mertz
(1946-2002) was born in Fort Scott, Kansas, a mid-west fort devised to keep
native Americans and settlers apart. Because
his father had a small oil well, George studied petroleum engineering (see also
Irving Fatt 2004 edition) at Kansas University, graduating in 1969.
He worked for Standard Oil Company (Chevron) for three years before
enrolling at the University of California at Berkeley where he gained his Doctor
of Optometry in 1975.
Mertz and Brien Holden met whilst Mertz was a researcher at Smith-Kettiwell in
1977 leading to a life-long friendship. Mertz
moved to Bausch & Lomb in the late 1970s where he was very involved in
researching extended wear. He was
the first to conduct real overnight studies on a group of both wearers and
non-wearers with beds in one room and a pachometer in another.
Holden asked George Mertz to join him, along with Des Fonn, Ken Polse and John
McNally, all on extended sabbaticals at the Cornea and Contact Lens Research
Unit, Sydney, Australia, in 1980. Mertz
continued his landmark research on the ocular physiological response to extended
wear. This led to the
Mertz-Holden-McNally partnership that went on to write the recipe for the
current high Dk silicone hydrogel lenses.
returned to the USA as Vice-President of Clinical research at CIBA Vision,
Georgia, and after three years moved to Vision Tech Inc. as Executive
Vice-President of Science and Technology, becoming President 1983-1985.
During this time he was appointed to the Optometrists in Industry
Committee of the American Optometric Association Contact Lens Section (1983) and
was appointed to the Ophthalmic Community Advisory Committee of the American
Academy of Optometry in 1985. He
formed G. W. Mertz & Associates, a contact lens consulting company and was
appointed to the working group on Contact Lens Use Under Adverse Conditions by
the Committee on Vision, National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences
(1988). He moved to Vistakon as Manager of Clinical Research and Product
Analysis, later Director of Academic affairs, a position he held until his
received an Award of Merit from the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA)
Board of Trustees in 1996, was appointed a member of the American Optometric
Foundation Board of Directors, was awarded Research Diplomate status by the
Cornea and Contact Lens Section of the AAO and became a fellow of the
International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE) in 1998.
He was presented with a special award and also the Presidents Circle
award by the AAO in 1998 and elected President of the American Optometric
Foundation in 2001.
all George Mertz was involved in clinical research and professional education
programmes for over 25 years. He was
dedicated to optometry and passed on his enthusiasm to young people entering the
profession. He was extremely
competent, professional, ethical to a fault, hated injustice, but also quiet and
modest with a
passion for doing things right.
[ Front Page ] [ Pioneers ] [ Overseas Pioneers ]