Contact lenses are an incredible invention that has enriched the lives of people who need vision correction. Prior to their appearance, many individuals had to wear spectacles or glasses if they had problems with their sight. Although essential, wearing glasses could be a bit cumbersome, especially if the wearer was young and/or athletic.
To that end, contact lens were something of a miracle, allowing those who would have felt tied down by glasses to be able to see while continuing to enjoy their normal activities.
Contact lenses have evolved since they were first introduced and today, even people who wear bifocals or have astigmatism can utilize these magnificent lenses. This fact is significant since spectacles were often the only method employed by ophthalmologists to strengthen vision in such cases for a number of years.
Great strides are still being made in this area everyday, but as contact lenses continue to develop, one can’t help but to look back and see how these marvelous sight aids came to be.
The History of the Lens
It is said that the father of contact lenses was Leonardo da Vinci. With his 1508 completion of the Codex of the Eye, Manual D, he seemed to discuss the alteration of the strength of the cornea by using a bowl of water. There is some debate as to whether or not these postulations had to do with vision correction or an extension of Davinci’s study of the human eye’s functions. Whatever his motivations, one can say that his ideals could have possible sparked the imaginations of those who would follow in his exploratory footsteps.
In 1636 an inventor named Descartes came up with a completely implausible but intriguing rudimentary lens. The concept involved filling a glass tube with water and placing it over the cornea. Unlike today’s contact lenses however, the clear glass protruded outwards making it impossible for the person to feasibly use them. One could argue that Descartes ideals are closer to the modern contact lens because the invention was unequivocally linked to probable vision correction.
Perhaps it was this blue print that John Herschel utilized when he extrapolated on a “mould for the cornea” in the 1845 Encyclopedia Metropolitana. His numerous theories on vision correction were not tested until a Hungarian physician name of Dr. Dallos in 1929 took up the grand cause.
Dallos was the first inventor to create molds that could fit fairly comfortably over the cornea and help correct sight issues. The only problem was that the eyewear was not easily tolerated and could not be seen through easily.
In 1887 F.E Mueller created clear easy to use contact lens and his model was improved upon by another German inventor named Adolf Eugene Fick in 1888. These lenses, called scleral contacts, were large and uncomfortable, but could easily be considered the grandfather of the modern day lens.
All this prior information gave physiologists, physicians and inventors the information they needed to play with and in 1949, the lens that we use today, aka, corneal lenses, were developed. Since that time, many different types of lenses have been born, including those that are purely cosmetic in their use.
Hard and soft lenses
Today, there are many styles and manufacturers of contacts but only two true types – hard lenses, which are more durable and soft lenses – which are more comfortable to wear. Your eye doctor will most likely choose the type that best fits your needs while going over all your various lens options.
Human beings are always striving to create new and astounding ways to better our lives and the amazing inventors who contributed to the emergence of contact lenses were able to do just that.