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Women in Ophthalmology

La Vie En Rose - Danièle Sylvie Aron-Rosa

Bansal, Rolika; Spivey, Bruce E1; Honavar, Santosh G

Author Information
Indian Journal of Ophthalmology: June 2022 - Volume 70 - Issue 6 - p 1880-1881
doi: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_1188_22
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Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein

Creativity when blended with intelligence in perfect proportions results in revolutions that bring changes beyond anyone’s imagination. Such is the life story of Danièle Sylvie Aron-Rosa, who introduced the world to her grand innovation – picosecond Neodymium Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (Nd:YAG) laser.

Danièle Sylvie Rosa was born on October 15, 1934 [Fig. 1] in Tunisia to André and Renée (née Valensi) Rosa. She pursued medicine at the University of Paris and interned at Paris Hospitals. In 1958, she married Jean-Jacques Aron. She was drawn to ophthalmology owing to her love for physics. She completed residency at the Hopitaux de Paris Assistée Publique and fellowship at the AP HP University of Paris. Dr Danièle Sylvie Aron-Rosa was appointed as the head of the clinic and became the Professor and Head of Ophthalmology at the University of Paris in 1962.[1]

Figure 1:
Dr Danièle Sylvie Aron-Rosa[2]

At the very beginning of her career, she studied and managed orbital tumors under the mentorship of Dr Guy Offret and treated several challenging cases.[3] The protocols for management of ocular tumors were uncertain back in those years.

Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun.” – Pablo Picasso

As she worked at the Rothschild Eye Foundation in Paris, she was deeply inspired by the ruby laser of Campbell and Rittler.[1] A blend of passion for ophthalmology and striking creativity made her apply the laws of physics to create faster laser pulse in the early 1970s, which was a direct descendant of the Krasnov pulsed ruby laser.[45] She experimented with cutting vitreous strands with the laser. Her technology delivered energy of an appropriate wavelength to cut tissues intra-ocularly and non-invasively, without disrupting the temperature or the integrity of surrounding tissues within 100 microns of the target.[16] She used nanosecond and picosecond Nd:YAG lasers, and at the same time, Franz Fankhauser used Q-switched YAG laser.[4]

After successfully patenting the device in 1978, Dr Aron-Rosa, in January 1979, performed the first Nd:YAG posterior capsulotomy.[7] The infra-red laser delivered pulses using a 1064 nm wavelength to avoid absorption by water, pigments, or hemoglobin. The laser created an optical breakdown by creating a high-power density (12 watts/cm2) with a very small diameter of laser beam of 50 microns. The Nd:YAG laser technique was applied to lens fragmentation, vitreous bands, iridotomies, and refractive surgeries.

I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream.” – Vincent van Gogh

In the 1987 Innovator’s lecture, she mentioned, “An innovation does not come from a sudden illumination. It requires a time of observation, a certain inclination to gamble, and the feeling that the present is already the past.” These words have inspired several creative minds, and her concept of picosecond pulsed Nd:YAG laser for posterior capsulotomy has been put to use over 40 years successfully.[1011]

She also contributed as the visiting professor at Presbyterian Hospital, New York, USA, and took up to be the Honorary Chair and Professor at the Université Paris VII and the Chairman of Ophthalmology at the Hôpital Robert Debre and Foundation Rothschild in Paris.[89] She also served on the International Committee for Quality Control of Ophthalmic Instruments and Devices.

There are two things in the painter, the eye and the mind; each of them should aid the other.” – Paul Cezanne

Dr Aron-Rosa won a number of awards; and she was the first woman to have received the prestigious Laureate Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology in 2004.[5] Her other accolades include the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur from the French President Mitterland in 1983; the Paleolopos Award in 1982; the Grand Prize of Science, Arts, and Letters in 1985; the Innovator Award, ASCRS, USA, in 1987; the Scientific Medical Personality of the Year in 1989; the Honor Award, AAO, USA, in 1990; the International Award for Excellence in Ophthalmology RHEMS; the Barraquer Lecture Award from the European Society of Refractive Surgery; the Binkhorst Medal; and the Charles Kelman Innovators Award. She was the first woman honoree of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) Hall of Fame.[1911]

What keeps my heart awake is colorful silence.” – Claude Monet

Another hidden feather in Dr Aron-Rosa’s cap is her incognito talent as the artist “Genskof”. Genskof’s art has been procured by the museums of Les Sables d’Olones and Ramatuels and the museums of Nashville and Memphis Tenessee.

Her oil and acrylic-based arts are inspired by classical, modern, and contemporary painters and have been displayed in various exhibitions and museums and admired by the art lovers [Fig. 2].[2] Besides ophthalmology and painting, she often enjoys golf, skiing, and sailing.[9]

Figure 2:
Genskof’s acrylic on canvas – ”This is not an eye”[2]

Dr Aron-Rosa has been a perfect student, educator, artist, and creator. All these elements when put together in one person result in historical ground-breaking innovations. She has not only written extensively on her work but has also continued to put her passion of educating to good use. She, on her canvas of life, has sprayed colors that created beautiful and memorable paintings with the deepest of meanings forever to be remembered and cherished.

Every canvas is a journey all its own.” – Helen Frankenthaler


1. Schwartz GS Around the Eye in 365 Days SLACK Incorporated New Jersey, USA 2008
2. GENSKOF-Painter-SEIZIEM'ART Association of Artists of the 16th arr, of Paris-Open Doors of Artists 16th 2020 Available from: Last accessed on 2022 May 09
3. Wayback Machine, 2020 Available from: Last accessed on 2022 May 09
4. Aron-Rosa D Pulsed YAG Laser Surgery Aron-Rosa D Thorofare, New Jesey Slack 1983 xiii-iv
5. Laureate Danièle S, Aron Rosa MD, PhD American Academy of Ophthalmology 2004 Available from: Last accessed on 2022 May 09
6. Munnerlyn CR Lasers in opthalmology:Past, present and future J Mod Opt 2003 50 2351 60
7. Aron-Rosa D, Aron JJ, Griesemann M, Thyzel R Use of the neodymium-YAG laser to open the posterior capsule after lens implant surgery:A preliminary report J Am Intraocul Implant Soc 1980 6 352 4
8. Sleeman E The International Who's Who of Women 2002 Psychology Press 2001
9. Wayback Machine, 2014 Available from: Last accessed on 2022 May 09
10. Aron-Rosa DS The 1987 Innovator's Lecture:Le sens du futur or reading behind the writing on the wall J Cataract Refract Surg 1987 13 428 30
11. Goes FJ The Eye in History JP Medical Ltd New Delhi, India 2013
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