Obituary: Robert A Turner
Author: Vera Pinter
Robert, born in Essex in 1918, was already an RAF trained engineer when he became interested in optics.
A meeting with Joseph Dallos was the beginning of a lifelong dedication to contact lenses. In 1948 he became Dallos’ assistant at the Contact Lens Centre, 18 Cavendish Square, and acquired knowledge in glass scleral lens fitting and manufacture.
In 1954 he set up his own company, GT Optics, for contact lens and machinery production.
He retained his interest in patient care and continued working in his private rooms and in NHS hospitals using plastic materials for scleral lenses, but for corneal lenses he developed a soft plastic material, Flexi. GT Optics and Flexi gained fame and he became a well-known lecturer all over Europe and opened a second laboratory in Portugal.
During a lecture at the Royal Society of Medicine in 1960, he shared his experience and early enthusiasm for Otto Wichterle’s hydrophylic lens which he called ‘the material of the future’ and participated in Dallos’ research on pasteurisation of soft lenses by providing the equipment.
Robert believed that professional cooperation, communication and sharing of experience was vital for the advancement of the speciality and convened The Contact Lens Manufacturer’s Association. He was made Freeman of the City of London and his promotion of world scientific cooperation earned him the membership of the International Cultural Exchange.
In 1983 he left London for Florida for health reasons. He built a successful practice, specialising in ophthalmic prosthesis and treating acid eye injuries – common in the Hispanic communities.