You don't know where you're going, if you don't know where you're from.
It is hard to believe that, 25 years ago, the first issue of the joint Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery and its distinctive orange cover was published. From its beginning, the journal has consistently ranked in the top 25 for impact factor of ophthalmology journals (currently 2.689) and has been a leading source of knowledge in the field of cataract and refractive surgery. The journal has not become an international platform for sharing and disseminating knowledge for cataract and refractive surgeons by chance or circumstance. Its purpose has been evident since its origins, rooted in a time when letter-writing and published print material was the only way to share ideas. To adequately understand the journey and history of the journal, we must look back to the beginning and the parallel storylines of the ASCRS and ESCRS.
The initial American Intra-Ocular Implant Society Newsletter appeared in 1975. In his Message from the Editor, Dr. Steven G. Cooperman wrote that the purpose of the AIOIS was to disseminate information relating to intraocular lens implantation through a publication as well as through an annual meeting. Dr. Kenneth J. Hoffer was a member of the original Editorial Board and became Managing Editor of the journal in 1976 as Dr. Robert Drews became the first Scientific Editor of the AIOIS. In 1979, Dr. Henry Clayman assumed the editorship with Dr. Stephen Obstbaum becoming the Associate Scientific Editor. Under Dr. Clayman’s tenure the journal was listed in Index Medicus, a decisive moment for the journal. In 1981, Stephen Obstbaum took over as Editor and enhanced the scope and types of articles. Five years later, in 1986, the AIOIS elected to change its name to the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) and to coincide renamed the existing journal to the Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery.1
Around the same time in Europe, Dr. Emanuel Rosen, participant at the inaugural European Intraocular Implant Council (EIIC) meeting, had the idea to publish a European peer-reviewed journal in the gap year of the biannual society meetings to supplement the society's conferences and keep members up to date on developing practices. At the time, the French implant society had a journal, Implant, and it was suggested for the EIIC to take it over, thus the first European intraocular journal, also titled Implant, was launched in 1981 in both English and French with Dr. George Baikoff as editor.2 The journal quickly grew and expanded its scope to include ocular anterior segment surgery and began publishing in monthly circulation in the English language only with Dr. Rosen taking over as editor in 1986. By the late 1980s, the society was growing in membership and expanding in expertise and as a result in 1988 voted to rename itself the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons (ESCRS). Similarly, in 1990, the journal also changed its name to European Journal of Implant and Refractive Surgery.3
In 1995, the two plot lines converged in Hong Kong when Stephen Obstbaum and Emanuel Rosen met for breakfast at the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology. They discussed their experiences as editors of their respective society journals and, realizing they had much in common, Dr. Obstbaum suggested merging the journals into a joint publication (Figure 1). Rosen saw the invitation as a viable option as he was concerned about the lagging growth of the European journal and felt it needed more credibility.3 The conversation continued between the two editors over long-distance phone calls.4
Less than a year later, confident and determined, Drs. Obstbaum and Rosen saw the first JCRS issue printed in January 1996, both respectively serving as the first American and European Editors, and Dr. Douglas D. Koch and Dr. Julian Stevens serving as the first Associate Editors, (Figure 2). The founding editors were driven by a desire to “perpetuate the strong traditions of each society's journal, while projecting a new image that reflects the energy and vitality of the clinicians and scientists who are dedicated to progress in cataract and refractive surgery.”5 As Koch pointed out in his International Intraocular Implant Club (IIIC) Worst Medal lecture in 2006, the journal's 10-year anniversary, the history of this merger is most notable for how smoothly and quickly the transition took place, reflecting the mutuality of vision and eagerness to work together from both society presidents, as colleagues and friends.6 From its inception, it was imperative to the founding editors that the joint publication have a rigorous peer-review process, guaranteeing the academic integrity of its publications and ensuring the path of the journal.
In 1995, at the beginning of my career, I joined the European Journal of Implant and Refractive Surgery as a peer reviewer. I was working then in the United States as a research fellow at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. I fondly remember receiving bundles of submissions in the mail from Emanuel Rosen at the journal's office in Manchester, United Kingdom. I would complete my reviews on hard copies, box them up, and mail them back. After the merger in January 1996, the packets arrived per post from the new journal's head office in Virginia. By today's standards, it was a forward-thinking idea to merge the publications of the two societies. But when one considers that in 1995/1996 modem-based internet was not yet widespread and email was first emerging, creating a transcontinental journal of multinational papers was a huge and labor-intensive undertaking.
Since those early years, much has changed in the journal and in our profession. The journal is now published monthly and has expanded its page count and content. We now publish full-length articles, laboratory science articles, review/update articles, correspondence, techniques, and consultations. After starting with 10 American, 10 European, and a few international board members, our editorial board has grown to include nearly 40 members from more than 10 countries (Figure 3). We have added an online Case Report journal (JCRO), allowing for the sharing of surgical techniques and treatments from all over the world. Other aspects of the journal, we are happy to say, have remained the same. We continue to have two editors from the United States and two from Europe, we continue to be focused primarily on cataract and refractive surgery, we have maintained our rigorous peer-review system that challenges authors and maintains our scientific rigor, and we have stuck with our signature orange. We are proud of the integrity of our articles and even more so of the international reach we have achieved (Figure 4).
To commemorate the journal's success over the past 25 years, we will be featuring a JCRS landmark article in the editorials of subsequent 2021 issues. We have reviewed the most-cited articles from JCRS over the past 25 years and have selected those that have had the greatest impact on the areas of cataract and refractive surgery, IOLs, cornea, and glaucoma. In addition, we will be inviting guest editors to highlight progress in the topic area of each article from the time of the article's initial publication to present. We feel a reflective look back at past articles and how they impacted the advancement of our specialty is an appropriate way to celebrate the journal.
The current Editorial Board and former editors thank all the JCRS employees over the years and especially our managing editors Christine Ford (1983–2014), Wendy Pacheco (2015–2018), and Genie Bailey (2018 to present), for their expertise, vision, and hard work in achieving optimal performance for the journal. Ford managed the journal for 20 years with competence and joy and helped us successfully navigate the various seasons of growth and at times kept wind in our sails (Figure 5). We would like to especially thank our peer reviewers over the past 25 years who are too numerous to name. Our reviewers are the skeleton of our work, and we owe much of the journal's growth and strength to them. They have helped shape the journal and similarly our profession, and we would not be where we are today without the time and commitment they so generously give and have given to the journal.
It is my great pleasure and honor to have been able to accompany the journal in various functions over the past 25 years. I started as a peer reviewer at the beginning of my career in 1996 and, shortly after, joined the journal as Associate Editor and Editor in 2014 (Figure 6 and 7). In many ways, I have grown up (at least professionally) with the journal. Especially now, in this time of uncertainty and change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is refreshing to take a step back from the daily hustle and feel confidently assured that our endeavors have a culminating purpose: to see the forest for the trees.
1. Obstbaum SA. From the editor. J Cataract Refract Surg 1986;12:17.
2. Rosen ES. A personal journal journey. J Cataract Refract Surg 2014;40:1401–1402
3. Rosen E, Barry P. European Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgeons–A History. Gill & Macmillan; 2013.
4. Milestones in the evolution of the JCRS. CRSToday. Availabe at: https://crstoday.com/articles/2006-may/crst0506_04-html/
. Accessed November 3, 2020.
5. Obstbaum SA, Rosen ES. Inauguration of a new journal. J Cataract Refract Surg 1996;22:1
6. Koch DD, Kohnen T, Mamalis N, Obstbaum SA, Rosen ES. Celebrating 10 years. J Cataract Refract Surg 2006;32:1