History Of Contact Lenses

1508 Leonardo da Vinci illustrates the concept of contact lenses 
He describes a method of neutralizing the corneal refractive power by holding the eye in the water.

1632 Rene Descartes of France suggests the corneal contact lens.

1801 Thomas Young uses Descartes’ principle to neutralize the cornea while studying astigmatism, refraction, and accommodation.

1887 First contact lens manufactured from glass, and fit to cover the entire eye developed by Muller of Germany. The lens was “scleral” in nature and prevented the eye from drying out.

1888 Fick and Kalt produce the first contact lens with correction.

1936 Contact lenses were first made from plastic by  Optometrist William Feinbloom. He fashions a uses synthetic plastic to make scleral lenses.

1948 Plastic contact lenses are designed to cover only the eye’s cornea. Kevin Toughy patents curve small corneal lenses.

1950 Dr. George Butterfield, an Oregon optometrist, designs a corneal lens, the inner surface of which follows the eye’s shape instead of sitting flat.

1956 Walter Becker patents silicon elastomer contact lens. The only problem is that the surface is hydrophobic.

1960  Otto Wichterle and Drahoslav Lim of Czechoslovakia experiment with contact lenses made of soft, water-absorbing plastic they developed.
1968 – First lathe-cut soft contact lenses were produced in Canada.

1971– The first molded soft contact lenses were produced and introduced in the USA by Bausch & Lomb

1972 – FDA classified contact lenses as drugs.
Dow Corning acquires a silicone patent and starts research to solve wettability.

1974 – Extended wear contact lenses have become popular.

1978 – Evidence shows increased incidence of corneal ulcers and infections with extended wear lenses. Extended wear falls out of grace.

1978 – Toric soft contact lenses were available.

1981 – CIBA Vision introduced the first tinted contact lenses.

1985  Bausch & Lomb acquires silicone patent from Dow Corning

1986 – Wesley-Jessen introduced the first lens that would change eye color.

1987 – J & J / Vistakon introduced disposable contact lenses.

1991  Planned replacement contact lenses are now available on the market.
          Daily-wear two-week replacement lenses were now available on the market.

1992  Disposable tinted contact lenses available on the market. 
1994 – Vistakon launched the daily disposable contact lenses.

1996  First disposable lenses using ultra-violet absorber are available in the U.S. 
1998 – New silicon hydrogels allow 6 times more oxygen to the cornea than conventional soft contact lenses making extended wear a reality.

1999  First multifocal disposable soft lenses available.

1999  First Biocompatible material produced in a contact lens overcoming one of the biggest obstacles in wearing soft contact lenses which is discomfort due to dry eye syndrome.

2001 Canadian company Opti-Centre produces a lens to correct astigmatism, refractive error and bifocal needs in patients.

By Marion Evans