Essilor has announced that Bernard Maitenaz, inventor of the Varilux progressive lens, has passed away in his home city of Paris at the age of 94.

The company said Maitenaz’s pioneering work revolutionised the eye care industry and transformed people’s lives, with over 700m Varilux lenses sold since 1959.

It added that his passion for optics, unwavering faith in its future and valuable contributions have made him one of the most iconic figures in the optical industry.

Paul du Saillant, chair and CEO of Essilor International, said: ‘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 also be 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.’

Maitenaz was one of the founders of the Essilor Group in 1972 and oversaw major international growth during his 10 years of leadership.

He invented progressive lenses after becoming frustrated with his father’s bifocals and was determined to improve his father’s life by improving his sight.

As a 33-year-old engineer at La Société des Lunetiers in 1959, Maitenaz set about creating a lens that would provide presbyopes with comfortable vision at any distance.