By South African Mint ……
On World Sight Day (WSD), the South African Mint, a wholly owned subsidiary of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), once again shined the light on the retinal cryoprobe featured on its 2020 crown and tickey series.
The South African Mint has a long tradition of embodying the national genius of inventors and inventions on its ‘South African Inventions’ crown and tickey coin series. Launched in 2016, the series honors inventions and firsts by South Africans that met with immense success globally. The dolos, heart transplant surgery, the computerized tomography (CT) scanner, and epoxy adhesive have been featured in preceding years.
WSD, observed annually on the second Thursday in October, focuses attention on blindness and vision impairment. According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, some 2.2 billion people globally have a vision impairment, of which at least one billion cases are preventable.
The retinal cryoprobe was commercialized by ophthalmologist and biomedical engineer Dr. Selig Percy Amoils in 1965, while he worked at the Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. The cryoprobe is a large, pen-like instrument used in cryosurgery, a technique commonly used to treat cataracts. During cryosurgery, the cryoprobe is inserted into a cut in the eye to deliver extremely cold liquid gas with precision that freezes onto a cataract. The cataract (or other unwanted tissue) can then be removed, with no risk of destroying healthy adjacent tissue.
If left untreated, cataracts may eventually cause blindness. The condition ‘posterior capsular opacification’ (cataract) is the world’s leading cause of blindness, accounting for approximately 42% of all cases. In South Africa, it has been identified as a national health priority, as it remains the leading cause of blindness in the country, according to the South African Optometric Association.
Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures performed worldwide and is considered among the most successful treatments in all of medicine. Late President Nelson Mandela had the cataract in his left eye removed by Dr. Amoils just days after his swearing-in as democratic South Africa’s first Black president.
South African Mint Managing Director Honey Mamabolo says: “The ongoing crown and tickey series pays homage to local ingenuity and celebrates the pioneering efforts of South Africans. Innovation and disruption are two sides of the same coin. The retinal cryoprobe has played a key role in improving the quality of life of many around the world.”
“At the South African Mint, we are equally disruptive,” she adds, “developing products like the crown and tickey – which not only attract the avid coin collector but also pique their interest in South African history.”
On the reverse, the R2 crown coin features the anatomy of an eye, the years ‘1965’ and ‘2020’, the words ‘Retinal Cryoprobe’, and the denomination ‘R2’. On the obverse, the national coat of arms, the words ‘South Africa’ in all the official languages, and the year of issue, ‘2020’, are featured.
The reverse of the much smaller 2½ c tickey coin depicts a gloved hand holding the retinal cryoprobe, the letters ‘SPA’ for ‘Selig Percy Amoils’, and the denomination ‘2½ c’. Its obverse shows a king protea, the words ‘South Africa’, and the year ‘2020’.
The ingenious design on these coins allows for a surprise: when the smaller tickey is placed on the bigger crown, it gives the impression of a retinal cryoprobe procedure.
“The influence of the invention is evident in the number of cataract surgeries performed globally, which the American Optometric Association estimates at 26 million every year,” adds Mamabolo.
“In ophthalmology, the average vision is 20/20 vision. In a way, therefore, this year lends itself perfectly well to commemorating our history, celebrating our successes, and recognizing our inventions and inventors.”
Only 1,000 of the sterling-silver R2 crown coins and 1,000 of the sterling-silver 2½ c tickey coins have been minted. A combination set, consisting of the two coins and a sterling-silver miniature sculpture of the eye, packaged in a beautiful piano-finish varnish walnut-wood box, is also available.
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About the South African Mint
The South African Mint is the continent’s leading manufacturer of legal coin tender as well as commemorative and rare collectible coins. With over 100 years’ experience in supplying symbols of value to the African and global markets, we pride ourselves in delivering products that represent our commitment to uniquely African design and supreme craftsmanship. We collaborate closely with our customers to develop distinct and durable monetary products that capture and preserve the heritage and pride of our nation. The South African Mint is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), established in accordance with the SARB Act 90 of 1989, as amended.