Where Your Clear Eyesight Came From: A History of Contact Lenses
Have you ever wondered where those thin plastic gadgets in your eyes that help you see came from? For decades, contact lenses have been helping people see without the burden of wearing glasses, but where did they come from?
It all began in 1887 when a German ophthalmologist by the name of Dr. Fick invented the first version of the contact lens. His initial contact lens design covered the entire surface of the eye, and was made of glass! As one would imagine, this design was extremely uncomfortable for the wearer and posed many risks.
From this point, many lenses were produced in order to fix this problem. It wasn’t until the 1930s that contact lenses were finally made from plastic, not glass, and they were lightweight enough for comfortable wear. One crucial problem still remained; contact lenses still covered the entire eye.
By 1948, English optical technician Kevin Touhy was making lenses and accidentally removed the edges, leaving only a corneal piece. He decided to put it in his own eye to see if it stayed in place, and it did. Thus, the corneal lenses we use today were born!
By 1998, Silicone lenses were invented, and this was a crucial milestone in lens technology because these lenses allow high oxygen permeability, which is important for ocular health.
Over time contact lenses became thinner, more advanced, and more comfortable, giving us lenses that we use today to correct our vision without the hassle of wearing glasses. It is estimated that over 30 million people in the United States wear contact lenses, and it’s all thanks to the innovations of those before us, and those who continue to innovate for years to come.