Elias Snitzer, an American Optical (AO) researcher who is considered the father of fiber lasers and fiber amplifiers, was honored posthumously by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) at a ceremony in Southbridge, Mass., on Oct. 26. Officials from the IEEE unveiled a granite plaque in Snitzer’s honor across the street from the former American Optical headquarters in Southbridge, where his discoveries were made.

Snitzer’s contributions to photonics research spanned more than four decades and helped bring about the fiber optics technology on which the Internet and other communications systems operate, according to, a website covering the photonics industry. He passed away in May 2012.

In 1961, just a year after the first laser was demonstrated, Snitzer and his colleagues built and operated the first optical fiber laser and three years later, the first optical fiber amplifier. Snitzer’s inventions include both neodymium- and erbium-doped laser glass, and he co-developed the first fiber optic laser amplifier with laser glass.

“His achievements really were seminal, and the technologies that were demonstrated across the street ultimately changed the world as we know it,” says IEEE president Gordon W. Day, who participated in the ceremony.

Former AO employee Dick Whitney, director of the Optical Heritage Museum and an employee of Carl Zeiss Vision’s Southbridge office, spent a year organizing the event with IEEE, which also featured presentations by science author and historian Jeff Hecht and several local officials.

Continuing to support eyecare professionals in their efforts to educate culturally diverse patients about their unique eye health needs and risks, Transitions Optical has refreshed its popular “What to Expect” brochure series with new imagery and updated eye health statistics.

The collection of brochures—which includes African-American Eyes, Asian Eyes (English and Mandarin), Hispanic Eyes (English and Spanish), Adult Eyes and Kids Eyes—is available for eyecare professionals to display in-office or share in their community outreach efforts. Printed copies of the brochures are available free of charge through Transitions Optical Customer Service at or (800) 848-1506. Printable PDF versions are also available online within the “My Practice” section of                            

For pdf versions of the brochures, go to

—Andrew Karp