“Dr. Richard Kratz has made one of the most important contributions to modern cataract surgery. He is to be considered one of the foremost leaders in the world in his specialty. I have had a long association with Dr. Kratz and consider him to be one of the most brilliant ophthalmologists in our midst. I have learned a great deal from him in own pursuit of cataract surgery perfection, and I remain indebted to him. He certainly fits the description of people we want in our Hall of Fame."
Norman Jaffe, MD
Bascom Palmer Eye Institute
Richard Kratz, MD, was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1920, received his bachelor’s degree from Occidental College in 1942, and his MD from the University of Southern California in 1946. He was chief of ophthalmology and ENT in the US Army 49th General Hospital in Tokyo, Japan, finishing in 1947. Dr. Kratz took the Diploma in Ophthalmic Medicine and Surgery course at Moorfields Hospital in 1948, where he studied directly under Harold Ridley. Peter Choyce was his classmate. He finished the ophthalmology and ENT residency at Duke in 1951, with classmates Robert Sinskey and Robert Welsh.
Dr. Kratz is or has been a member of 15 ophthalmological societies and is a founding member of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS), the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists, the Joint Commission on Allied Personnel in Ophthalmology, and the National Ophthalmological Society. He has served as president, chairman, or board member of several societies and has received numerous awards and given many honorary lectures.
In 1965, Dr. Kratz testified at the US Senate hearing and helped defeat the U.S. Senate bill sponsored by optometrists and opticians that would have made it illegal for an ophthalmologist to fit contact lenses or glasses and required patients to go to an optometrist for that service.
Dr. Kratz is best known for developing, teaching, and defending phacoemulsification against Medicare, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and some of the senior academic ophthalmologists. He is co-founder with Robert Sinskey, MD, of the course that taught the phaco technique to about 4000 ophthalmologists from all over the world. The course simplified the procedure by moving the emulsification from the anterior chamber to the iris plane to protect the corneal endothelium. Dr. Kratz and Dr. Sinskey developed the two-handed technique, the scleral tunnel incision, hydrodisection of the nucleus, and polishing of the posterior capsule. They also made many modifications of the phaco machine and surgical instruments.
Dr. Kratz is clinical professor of ophthalmology, emeritus at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and the University of California, Irvine. He has never patented any of the intraocular lenses, devices, or instruments that he developed and declined the honor of being chairman of ophthalmology at the University of California and president of ASCRS.
Dr. Kratz continues being active at the University of California, Irvine, in the Ophthalmology Department Steering Committee and on the Beckman Laser Institute's Board of Directors. With his friends, Paul Honan, MD, and Tom Mazzocco, MD, "the Three Amigos," he attends ASCRS, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, and a few other meetings every year. He is definitely not retired.