Posts Tagged ‘ history ’

Contact Lenses were invented 500 years ago


The first known sketches of contact lenses were apparently produced by italian architect, mathematician and inventor Leonardo da Vinci in 1508.

Although Leonardo da Vinci never actually produced a physical model of contact lens, many believe that his ideas eventually led to contact lens development more than 130 years later .

The early contact lenses were entirely made of glass, and they covered the whole eye, including the sclera, the white part of the eye, hence they were very heavy and reduced the oxygen supply to the eye. For this reason they could only be tolerated for a few hours only so did not become very popular.

As the years went by, new materials such as plastic were developed, in 1936, New York optometrist William Feinbloom  introduced scleral lenses made of a combination of glass and plastic that were significantly lighter than older glass-blown contacts.

Later on in 1948, California optician Kevin Tuohy introduced the first contact lenses that resembled modern gas permeable (GP) contact lenses of today. These all-plastic lenses were called “corneal” contact lenses because they were smaller in diameter than previous contact lenses and covered only the clear front surface of the eye (the cornea).

Perhaps the biggest event in the history of contact lenses was the invention of the first hydrophilic (“water-loving”) hydrogel soft contact lens material by Czech chemists Otto Wichterle and Drahoslav Lim in 1959.

Wichterle and Lim’s discovery led to the 1971 launch of the first FDA-approved soft contact lenses in the United States — Bausch + Lomb’s “SofLens” brand contacts.

From that moment on contact lenses technology improved significantly until the latest introduction of silicone hydrogel contact lenses.