Bernard Maitenaz Receives Prestigious Apollo Award


Bernard Maitenaz, inventor of the progressive lens and Chairman and CEO of Essilor from 1980-1991, was presented with the prestigious Apollo Award at this year’s 117th Annual American Optometric Association Congress. 

The Apollo Award honors individuals or organizations for distinguished service to the visual welfare of the public.

This year’s award not only pays tribute to Maitenaz but also to the groundbreaking nature of the innovation behind progressive lenses – both today and in the past.

In 1959, following eight years of research, Maitenaz, a young mechanical engineer at Essilor in France, created Varilux, the world’s first progressive lens. Since then Varilux lenses have gone on to set the standard of visual comfort for people with presbyopia by providing seamless vision at all distances.

Presbyopia is the most widespread vision problem in the world – affecting everyone over the age of 45 regardless of location, health or economic circumstance; yet more than 50 percent of people with presbyopia across the world do not benefit from glasses or adequate correction. By 2020, it’s estimated that 2.3 billion people will have presbyopia.


In 2012, in its continued mission to improve lives by improving sight, Essilor launched a new range of Varilux lenses – Varilux S Series – that incorporated the latest technological innovations to enable wearers to immediately adapt to their new lenses. A total of 300 million people around the world wear or have worn Varilux lenses, with a new wearer every three seconds.