A brief history of Rohto® Eye Drops

For over 100 years, Rohto® has been creating eye drops and developing new formulations and containers for everyone’s eye care needs. Whether you’re looking for dry eye relief, redness relief, or digital eye strain symptom relief, there’s a Rohto® eye care product that’s right for you.

The very first Rohto® eye drops were developed back in 1909, after the end of the Russo-Japanese War. The demand for eye drops was increasing fast, due to an outbreak of trachoma, an eye disease caused by bacterial infection. A growing class of teachers, doctors, and office workers were also demanding eye drops.

Why the name Rohto®?

The company that would someday be Rohto® Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. was founded in 1889 as Shintendo Yamada Anmin Pharmacy, a small family drugstore run by Yasutami Yamada in Osaka, Japan. It was a pioneer in over-the-counter medicines and consumer healthcare products, and its first product was “Ikatsu,” a gastrointestinal medicine based on the belief that “stomach trouble can lead to all kinds of diseases.”

In 1909, Dr. Toyotaro Inoue, a leading authority in Japan’s ophthalmology circle, created the very first batch of eye drops for Yamata. The company used Dr. Inoue’s formula going forward, and it caused “a major revolution in eye care in Japan.”

The name “Rohto®” was a tribute to one of Dr. Inoue’s mentors. Earlier in his career, Dr. Inoue had studied ophthalmology in Germany. While living in Munich, he learned how to formulate eye drops under the tutelage of one of his professors, Dr. August von Rothmund. He named his eye drops “Rohto®,” to honor the man who taught him so much.

A handy single container replaces two

Back in the early 1900s, eye droppers and eye drop containers were sold as two separate items. But in 1931, Rohto® decided to create a single, integrated container that combined the eye drop container and eye dispensing device into one double-mouthed eye drop bottle.

This new, integrated eye dropper was patented, praised as a "new invention" and released all over Japan. Sales immediately shot to the top.

The eye drop name becomes the company name

After World War II, in 1949, the name Rohto® was adopted as the company name, and became Rohto® Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. In the pharmaceutical industry, it was common to use the name of the founder as the company name. However, since "Rohto® Eye Drops" had been the pillar of the business for decades, and was well known throughout Japan, “Rohto®” became the company name.

“New Rohto® Eye Drops” are launched

After the end of World War II, the economic reconstruction of Japan led to an improvement in overall hygiene. Rohto® saw an expanded role for eye drops. Not only could they be used for treatment of eye conditions, they could now be used to maintain eye health.

In response, Rohto® launched a "New Rohto® Eye Drop" containing vitamin A. This formula was improved in 1964, when Rohto® launched “V Rohto® Eye Drops,” eye drops blended with aspartate, an amino acid that’s effective for tired eyes and eyestrain.

A flood of new eye care products

Over the next few decades, Rohto® introduced a variety of innovative products, including:

> Children's Rohto® Eye Drops (1961)
> Multi-symptom drops, for hyperemia and tired eyes (1964)
> Namida Rohto®, an artificial tears product (1973)
> Rohto® Alguard Eye Drops, for itchy eyes due to pollen and hay fever (1987)
> Rohto® V40 Eye Drops, for middle-aged and elderly people (1989)
> Rohto® Lycee, scented eye drops for young women (1994)
> Rohto® C Cube, an over-the counter contact lens solution (1996)
> Rohto® Eye Stretch, for focus-regulating muscles (2002)
> Rohto® Dry Aid®, for dry eye relief, with an ultra-high viscosity micro-emulsion (2004)
> Rohto® V11, with 11 active ingredients to control the inflammation in overused eyes (2008)
> Rohto® Junior, to counter the symptoms of the latest environmental changes that affect children’s eyes, such as games and entrance exams (2011)
> Rohto® Nano Eye Clear Shot, featuring a new container, a very small nozzle, and 400 times the viscosity (2013)
> Rohto® V Active, for active seniors (2014)
> Rohto® Digi Eye®, to counter the effects of digital eye strain symptoms and screen fatigue (2014)
> Rohto® Alguard Children’s Clear, anti-pollen eye drops for children (2014)

Today, sales of Rohto® over-the-counter eye drops account for more than 40% of the Japanese eye care market. And the combined Rohto® group has established 23 companies worldwide. Rohto® products, which include skin care and internal medicine as well as eye drops, are available in more than 130 countries.

At Rohto®, we’ve re-invented our eye drops many times during our history, but our core focus on our customers, our associates, and our societies has never changed. We’re grateful that we continue to have the opportunity to serve and help create a better world.