Alcon was founded in 1945 as a small ophthalmic shop in Fort Worth, Texas. View our timeline to learn how we’ve become the global leader in eye care and the second-largest division of Novartis.
Two pharmacists, Robert Alexander and William Conner, open a small pharmacy in Fort Worth, Texas, combining the first syllables of their last names to call it Alcon.
With William Conner as Alcon’s first president, Alcon Laboratories, Inc. is incorporated. The company begins manufacturing specialty pharmaceutical products. Alexander and Conner fill prescriptions during the day, and at night prepare sterile, injectable vitamins and oral products using a blender and pressure cooker.
Alcon introduces its first two ophthalmic products: Ophthalzin™ for minor eye infections and Zincfrin® for red, itchy eyes.
While on a sales call in West Texas, Robert Alexander and a local physician create and patent the DROP‑TAINER® eye drop dispensing bottle, now standard for eye care products.
Alcon opens an office in Canada, beginning its international operations.
The Alcon Trust is established, and continues today through the Alcon Foundation, which supports organizations that advance and improve the quality of eye health, education, and access to care globally.
Alcon establishes its charitable, in-kind donation programs: Medical Missions and U.S. Patient Assistance Programs. Through Medical Missions, Alcon supports eye care professionals and organizations around the world in their work to bring eye care to people in need through philanthropic sight-saving missions. Alcon’s Patient Assistance Programs help preserve the sight of U.S. patients who cannot afford medication or do not qualify for local, state or federal prescription programs.
Alcon’s surgical division is formed with seven associates.
With sales of $31 million, Alcon goes public with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
Ed Schollmaier assumes the role of president. During his tenure, Alcon sales grow from $36 million to $2 billion and the company becomes the world’s largest ophthalmic company.
Swiss food company Nestlé acquires Alcon. The acquisition provides capital to accelerate Alcon’s global growth and manufacturing expansion.
Alcon begins its long-standing partnership with ORBIS International* , three years before Orbis’s first sight-saving flight. Today, Alcon supports Orbis through a combination of the Flying Eye Hospital and the India Childhood Blindness Initiative.
The William C. Conner Research Center is established, helping Alcon significantly expand research into treatments for eye diseases and disorders.
Alcon acquires Sharpoint, Inc., expanding its surgical manufacturing capabilities.
Alcon purchases CooperVision Surgical and combines them with its existing operations to become the world’s leading ophthalmic surgical company.
Alcon’s Irvine Technology Center, the world’s foremost center for the development of ophthalmic instrumentation, opens in California.
The FDA approves Alcon’s AcrySof® intraocular lens (IOL), representing the first time a material had been developed specifically for an intraocular lens (IOL). Today, Alcon’s portfolio of AcrySof® IOLs are the world’s most frequently implanted lenses.
Alcon introduces Patanol® ophthalmic solution, now the leading prescription eye drop for treating allergic conjunctivitis.
Tim Sear, a longtime leader in Alcon’s international expansion, becomes the company’s third president and CEO.
Alcon acquires Summit Autonomous and Grieshaber to enter the refractive laser market and expand its line of retinal surgery instruments.
Alcon introduces OPTI-FREE® EXPRESS®, the world’s first no-rub solution for contact lens disinfection.
Alcon introduces TRAVATAN® ophthalmic solution for lowering intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients.
Alcon offers 25 percent of its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, re-entering the stock market 40 times larger than when it left in 1978.
Alcon launches several flagship products, including Systane® eye drops for the treatment of dry eye symptoms, Vigamox® ophthalmic solution for bacterial conjunctivitis or “pink eye,” CIPRODEX® optic suspension for middle and outer ear infection, and the AcrySof® Natural IOL, which filters UV and blue light.
Cary Rayment, who joined Alcon in 1989 with the CooperVision acquisition, is appointed Alcon’s fourth president and CEO.
Alcon launches the AcrySof® ReSTOR® IOL, which provides a full range of vision. This lens quickly becomes the global leader in multi-focal IOLs.
Alcon launches NEVANAC® ophthalmic suspension, a topical, nonsteroidal drug for the treatment of pain and inflammation associated with cataract surgery.
Alcon introduces DUOTRAV® Solution eye drops for the decrease in IOP in patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension.
Alcon significantly expands its glaucoma and cataract treatments with TRAVATAN Z® ophthalmic solution, which lowers intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients and the AcrySof® Toric IOL for cataract patients with astigmatism.
Alcon introduces PATADAY™ ophthalmic solution, the first once-a-day prescription eye drop for eye allergy itching.
Alcon expands its product portfolio for LASIK surgery through regulatory clearance to purchase Wavelight AG.
Alcon launches the company’s first nasal product, PATANASE® nasal spray, to treat nasal allergy symptoms and AcrySof® line expansions with the Phakic and IQ ReSTOR® +3.0 D IOLs.
Alcon introduces the CONSTELLATION® Vision System for vitreoretinal surgery. The computerized machine quickly becomes the gold standard for use during surgical procedures of the anterior and posterior chamber of the eye.
Novartis purchases approximately 25 percent of Nestlé’s stake in Alcon, becoming its second largest shareholder. Novartis also retains the option to purchase the remaining 52 percent of Nestlé’s ownership of Alcon beginning in 2010.
CIBA Vision launches AIR OPTIX® for Astigmatism, AIR OPTIX® AQUA, and DAILIES® AquaComfort Plus® contact lenses.
Alcon’s leading brand of intraocular lenses (IOLs), AcrySof®, exceeds 40 million implants.
Kevin Buehler, who joined the Alcon sales force in 1984, is appointed Alcon's fifth President and CEO. His title changes to Division Head in 2011 following the merger with Novartis.
Alcon expands its cataract surgical portfolio with the acquisition of LenSx® Laser platform. Today, the LenSx® Laser is the global leader in cataract laser technology.
The boards of Novartis and Alcon complete its merger agreement, giving Novartis 100 percent ownership of Alcon. The merger unites the strengths of Alcon, CIBA Vision and Novartis Ophthalmics into one eye care business, making Alcon the second-largest division of Novartis. Sales reach $10 billion.
Alcon begins the launch of the world's first and only water gradient daily disposable contact lens, DAILIES TOTAL1®, in select European countries, and also receives regulatory clearance in the U.S.
Alcon enters into the ophthalmic microscope market through the acquisition of Endure Medical Systems. The LuxOR™ family of surgical microscopes provides superior visualization throughout cataract surgery procedures through the proprietary ILLUMIN-i® technology.
To further improve patient outcomes in cataract surgery, Alcon acquires the ophthalmic division of SensoMotoric Instruments, providing Alcon with leading ocular surgical guidance technology.
Alcon celebrates its 30-year partnership with Orbis, reaffirming its commitment to restoring sight and eliminating preventable blindness across the globe.
The FDA approves SIMBRINZA® Suspension, the only available fixed-combination, IOP-lowering medication without a beta blocker for patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension.
Alcon launches the industry's most advanced phaco technology platform, the CENTURION® Vision System, designed to provide surgeons with superior cataract removal capabilities by optimizing every moment of the surgical procedure.
Alcon launches THEeyeSOLUTION™ branding for its portfolio of over-the-counter eye care products to help make it easy for people to find the best care for their eyes.
Alcon introduces JETREA® (ocriplasmin) intravitreal injection to countries outside the U.S. as the first and only pharmacological treatment approved for symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion and vitreomacular traction, including when associated with macular hole.
Alcon begins its global introduction of the Cataract Refractive Suite. The Cataract Refractive Suite by Alcon is comprised of multiple innovations and advanced technologies from Alcon’s extensive surgical device portfolio.
Alcon launches ILEVRO™ opthalmic suspension, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, for the treatment of pain and inflammation associated with cataract surgery.
Alcon expands its DAILIES® AquaComfort Plus® family of contact lenses with the introduction of multifocal and toric designs.
Alcon opens a new ophthalmic pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Singapore to respond to the growing eye care needs in Asia.
Jeff George is appointed Alcon Division Head. He joins from the Sandoz division, where he served as Global Head of the third largest division for five years.
Alcon introduces AIR OPTIX® COLORS contact lenses, a monthly color-enhancing lens with silicone hydrogel technology available in nine natural-looking colors.
Alcon celebrates the 20th anniversary of the launch of its leading brand of IOLs, AcrySof®, exceeding 75 million implants to date.
Alcon enters into an agreement with Google[x] to license "smart lens" technology.
Alcon acquires WaveTec® Vision, the developer of the first commercialized intra-operative aberrometry system for cataract surgery.
* Trademark of Project ORBIS International
Alcon launches next generation hydrogen peroxide lens care solution, AOSEPT® PLUS with HydraGlyde® Solution and CLEAR CARE® PLUS Cleaning and Disinfecting Solution.
The Alcon Experience Center, an eye health education and training center, opens at the Fort Worth, Texas global headquarters.