The History of Contact Lenses

Posted: 14th May 2010 by admin in Articles
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Most people are familiar with the concept of contact lenses but are surprised when they find out just how long ago they were invented. Obviously vision is something doctors have taken very seriously for a long time, and finding a more convenient solution than glasses became a priority clear back in the 1800′s. Early contact lenses were, however, quite a bit of trial and error for quite some time.

The concept of contact lenses was generally first thought of by an English astronomer all the way back in 1827. It was, however, just a thought at that point and no real progress was made until the late 1800′s when a German glassblower named Mullen created what is believed to be the first known glass contact lenses in 1887. However nothing much came of them until the 1930′s and 40′s when hard plastic lenses began to appear. The plastic lenses continued their evolution in the 50′s and the 60′s getting smaller, thinner and lighter – all highly desirable characteristics. However, contact lenses didn’t really begin to truly “take off” in popularity until the soft contact lens technology was developed. The problem was simply that despite all of the improvements in hard contact lenses over the years, they still were just not very comfortable and many people had difficulties adjusting to their daily use. All of that changed, however, with the advent of the soft contact lens.

Bausch & Lomb released the first soft contact lenses in 1971, but in reality they had been in development since the late 50′s – it just took a lot of technical advances to get them ready for release. Soft contact lenses changed forever the way contact lenses were perceived and their comfort just continued to rise and with that rose their sales and popularity. Today more than 90% of all contact lenses sold are of the soft contact lens type – that should say quite a bit for the importance of its invention.

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