NAGOYA, Japan--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Kyoichi Tanaka, chairman and founder of contact lens manufacturer Menicon Co., Ltd., last year received two prestigious awards. On June 28, 2013, at its annual meeting in San Diego, the American Optometric Association honored Mr. Tanaka’s life’s work with its Legends Award. Two months later, on August 29 at its 17th Symposium – held in Kyoto – the International Society for Contact Lens Research conferred on him its Lifetime Contribution Award.
Today, still “genki” (vigorous) at 82, Mr. Tanaka maintains a strong interest in the arts and still keeps one eye on the business he pioneered in 1951, now headed by his son Hidenari Tanaka. His life and career have spanned an almost unfathomable trajectory of progress in contact lens technology.
In November, 1950, as Japan was recovering from WWII, Mr. Tanaka was a young optician in Nagoya, near his hometown, working in a shop frequented by U.S. military personnel. One day an American officer’s wife came in to have her glasses adjusted, and mentioned in passing that she had contact lenses in her purse.
Having never seen contact lenses before, Mr. Tanaka was excited. So as politely as he could with his rudimentary English, he asked to see them. “Oh no,” the woman replied, wrapping her arms around her handbag. “They’re very expensive and it would be terrible if they got broken.”
Although disappointed, he was so intrigued by the idea of contact lenses that he set out to make his own, from scratch. Within three months, testing prototypes in his own eyes, he had crafted his first wearable corneal contact lenses. From there, Mr. Tanaka never looked back as he built what has become a thriving global enterprise, respected in the profession and industry as a force in vision innovation.
As Menicon completes its 63rd fiscal year, we continue to look forward to serving the vision needs of people on every continent. But in this month when progress is measured each year, we like to look back, to give thanks and marvel at how far we have come from our humble beginnings.
For the rest of the story of Kyoichi Tanaka’s early career, see The Man Who Invented the Japanese Contact Lens: www.menicon.com/corporate/images/stories/pdf/chairmans-biography.pdf
Headquartered in Nagoya, Japan, and represented in over 80 countries, Menicon Co., Ltd. is the only contact lens company in the world dedicated to every aspect of the field from material development and lens design to manufacturing of lenses and lens care solutions. Menicon offers an expanding portfolio of innovative lenses, packaging and related products that maximize user comfort and convenience. The company is also the world's largest producer of gas-permeable contact lenses.
The American Optometric Association represents approximately 36,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians. Doctors of optometry provide two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States. For more information, see: www.aoa.org
Established in 1978, the International Society for Contact Lens Research (ISCLR) is committed to international communication in all fields of contact lens research: materials, eye care, clinical practice, compliance and epidemiology. For more information, see: www.isclr.org