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Parent Category: 18th Century History Articles
Category: Medical History
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Contact lenses are an innovative invention that helps people see clearly without the use of eyeglasses. The lens may also serve as part of people’s costumes and getups when in character or plays. Educate yourself and find out more about how the years helped shape and mold the modern lens people mostly use nowadays.

1508: The Codex Of The Eye And Where It All Began

Leonardo Da Vinci started the “Codex of the Eye” by thinking that putting your head in a bowl full of water helps change one’s eyesight. Da Vinci went as far as creating a lens made out of glass that had a funnel on the side to act as a vessel of water. Of course, this device proved to have no use at all and is not practical at the time.

 

1636: The “Direct” Contact Lens

 Rene Descartes, a French scientist, took note of Da Vinci’s work and made his idea. Descartes used a test tube, filled it with water, and put it directly onto the eye. The whole thought of naming the contact lens as such is because of what Descartes did. The idea did somehow help in vision enhancement, but it was hard to blink, near impossible even. Rene Descartes’ invention remained as the only model for the contact lens for the next twenty years.

 

1801: The Birth Of Astigmatism

Another scientist that took note of previous ideas was Thomas Young. At first, Young intended to alter Descartes’ view by decreasing the physical size of the tube. After finding the right size, he decided to use wax so he could prop the containers with water onto his eyes without them falling. Despite the odd way of executing his idea, Thomas Young also accidentally discovered what astigmatism is all about. In addition to this, Young’s invention never seemed practical and did not help with eye problems.

 

1845: Production Of Corneal Molds

Thanks to a physicist named Sir John Herschel, the idea of creating molds for a person’s cornea took place. The goal was to, of course, correct one’s vision. Unfortunately, this time does not possess the needed technology which led to making Herschel’s ideas remain a theory and speculation for many years.

 

On the other hand, the good news is that this is also the year that scientists started familiarizing themselves with the following terms:

 

●        Nearsightedness: the eye condition in which you can see the items near you while the farther things are a blur.

●        Farsightedness: You can see farther objects while the nearer objects are a blur.

●        Astigmatism: there is blurred vision due to corneas with abnormal shapes as well as corneal curvatures.

 

1880: The Revolutionary Time

As mentioned, previous inventions didn’t allow the user of the first contact lenses to blink, which deemed it impractical and hard to use. Luckily, the year 1880 started giving more options for scientists who wished to improve the materials used in making contact lenses. Doctor Adolf Fick is responsible for a treatise (“A Contact Spectacle”) that described the role of refractive power in improving one’s vision. Together with Eugene Cult and Louis J. Girard, Fick invented a thinner version of previous lenses that made it possible to blink.

 

1887: Refractive Power Finally Perfected

F. A Mueller introduced the so-called “scleral lenses” that masked the whole eye. The lens projected a slightly convex manner, which made way for a liquid solution in between. The inclusion of liquid created the refractive power, which helps in vision repair.

 

1888: Physical Samples And The First Successful Contact Lens

Doctor Fick finally put the first contact lens samples to test. There are two noted issues: the material is from heavy blown glass an the lenses’ diameter measured eighteen to twenty-one millimeters. These issues resulted in the following:

 

●        The difficulty of wearing the lenses.

●        An uncomfortable feeling because of having the lens covering the whole eye.

●        The weight made it harder to function overall.

●        Suffocation or oxygen deprivation because of the amount of eye area it covered.

●        There is immense pain in the eyes after hours of usage.

 

However, despite the negative issues and results, people continued to use scleral lenses for a very long period.

 

1929 To 1930: Contacts Are According To Eye Shapes

Thanks to technological advancements, Doctor Dallos, and Ivan Komaromy successfully created eye molds based on Sir John Herschel’s theory from years back. The production of a new type of plastic helped in achieving contact lenses that made it easier for everyone overall. Here are some of the advantages noted:

 

●        The lenses are light and easy to apply.

●        It is a clear and transparent type of plastic.

●        They do not quickly break.

●        Scratch-proof.

●        Easily bent plastic material.

●        Suppliers easily manufacture them.

 

Despite the big surge in popularity, these lenses still covered the whole eye, which meant that suffocation or oxygen depletion is still an issue.

 

1948: The Corneal Lens Are Born

 While working on a piece of the lens, Kevin Touhy accidentally sloughed off the area of the glass meant to cover the sclera (the white part). With only the corneal area at hand, Kevin still tried the lenses. This shocking discovery paved the way for the invention of the glass of the cornea.

 

1950: Thinning And Winning

Shortly after the accidental discovery, George Butterfield redesigned the lenses from flat to curved. In addition to this, Frank Dickenson, Willhelm Sohnjes, and John Neil introduced lenses that are much thinner compared to previous ones. However, a negative trait remained: you cannot wear the lens for an extended time, especially not during sleep.

 

1958: Introducing Hydrogel In Molding

Otto Wichterle is a chemist in Czechoslovakia that invented hydrogel. Hydrogel quickly got recognized by Doctor Robert Morrison and decided to manufacture lenses that included hydrogel worldwide.

 

1960: Contact Lens Casting

Hydrogel, being popularly known, continued its development thanks to Bausch and Lomb. Bausch and Lomb significantly improved hydrogel production as well as the techniques needed.

 

1998 onwards: The Contact Lens As We Know It

The first-ever silicone hydrogel is released. Finally, scientists resolve the long term problem of oxygen deprivation thanks to Ciba Vision as well as the continued research for the next few years. Find out more on the current eyewear trends.