Hommage à Bernard Maitenaz: Essilor pleure la disparition de l'inventeur du verre Varilux
Par Essilor Canada
Essilor Group and the entire optical industry are mourning the loss of Bernard Maitenaz, who passed away on February 22, 2021, at the age of 94. Essilor would like to pay tribute to the visionary inventor and leader that Bernard Maitenaz was. At this difficult time, the entire Essilor family’s thoughts are with Bernard Maitenaz’s family.
Read on and watch below the video [insert video EN URL: https://youtu.be/MqEv3jQ42As] to find out more about his inspirational career history.
Through his pioneering work, Bernard Maitenaz revolutionized the eyecare industry and transformed the lives of millions of presbyopes globally. To date, more than 700 million Varilux lenses have been sold since 1959. His passion for optics, unwavering faith in its future and valuable contributions have made him one of the most iconic figures in the industry.
Before progressive lenses, presbyopia was generally corrected with bifocal lenses, an invention from the 18th century. Frustrated with his father's bifocals, and determined to improve his father’s life by improving his sight, Bernard, who was then a 33-year-old engineer at Société des Lunetiers in 1959, took on the task of creating a lens that would provide presbyopes with comfortable vision at any distance.
The Essilor Group’s evolution over the years has been greatly influenced by Bernard Maitenaz’s dynamism and leadership in the areas of R&D, Operations, and commercial activities. Bernard was one of the founders of Essilor Group in 1972. At the helm of the company between 1981 and 1991, he oversaw a period of major international growth, which turned Essilor into the world’s leading lens manufacturer. Bernard Maitenaz’s engagement and his interest for Essilor remained constant well beyond his retirement. He remained active as Honorary Chairman of the Essilor Board of Directors, and within the Valoptec shareholders association of which he was a founding member.
In a personal tribute message, Paul du Saillant, Chairman and CEO, Essilor International, described him as “a true pioneer” saying, “The entire Essilor family is truly saddened by the loss of our honorary chairman, friend and colleague, Bernard Maitenaz. A true pioneer and inventor at heart, Bernard will be also remembered for the values with which he led Essilor between ‘81 and ‘91, and which he promoted within Valoptec throughout his more than 70-year career. Without him and the invention of the Varilux® progressive lens, the optical industry and Essilor would not be what they are today. We owe Bernard enormously, and he will remain a source of inspiration for generations to come. On this sad day, our thoughts are with his family, sons and grandchildren.”
Worldwide accolades for his remarkable industry contributions
Bernard Maitenaz made tremendous contributions to the field of vision which earned him considerable reputation in numerous areas of research and technology:
· Bernard taught optical engineering at the École supérieure d’optique in Paris. He was also Technical Education Advisor at the Ministère de l'Éducation nationale, and President of the Centre d’enseignement et de recherche in Paris.
· He served as a member of several boards of directors, particularly with the École supérieure d’optique for over 10 years, and with the École nationale supérieure des arts et métiers from 1990 to 1994. He was a board member of the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) from 1992 to 2003, and was a member of the Conseil pour les applications de l'Académie des sciences (CADAS).
· He received numerous accolades for his contributions to optometry, including an honorary Doctorate of Ocular Science from New England College of Optometry in Boston in 1988 and an honorary Doctorate Honoris Causa from the School of Optometry of the Montreal University in 1993.
He was the recipient of the 2014 Apollo Award, the highest award presented to the general public by the American Association of Optometrists, which honors individuals or organizations for distinguished service to the visual welfare of the public.