Many contact lens users do not know what is the origin of the contact lenses. In the United States, there is an estimate of more than 30 million people that wore contact lenses in the year 2010. With that large population of contact lens users, the industry grows and gives global access to comprehensive eye care.
The history of these kinds of optical devices is more than 500 years. A famous Italian polymath known to be Leonardo da Vinci was into the science of optics. In 1508, he wrote in his book “Codex of the Eye” about the theory of correcting the vision of a person using a curved glass and water.
It took several years for the first glass lenses to be produced. In 1887, a German glassblower known to be F.E. Muller produced the first glass lenses that can be worn comfortably over the eye. The early models are made out of thick glass which hinders the oxygen to reach the eye surface. People are advised to wear it for short periods only.
The Timeline of Contact Lenses
- 1508 – The concept of contact lenses was illustrated by Leonardo da Vinci
- 1823 – John Herschel, a British astronomer, conceptualize the design of the lens
- 1887 – The first contact lens made from glass were produced that can cover the entire eye
- 1939 – The first contact lens made from plastic was produced
- 1948 – The plastic contact lens is developed to cover only the cornea of the eye
- 1971 – Soft contact lenses were introduced
- 1978 – GP contact lenses were introduced
- 1981 – The soft contact lenses were approved by the FDA for extended or overnight wear
- 1986 – The GP contact lenses for overnight wear is available to use
- 1987 – Disposable soft contact lenses were introduced
- 1987 – The GP contacts used fluorosilicone acrylate materials
- 1996 – One-day disposable soft lenses were introduced
- 2002 – The year where the silicone-hydrogel contact lenses were first marketed
- 2002 – The overnight orthokeratology was approved by the FDA
- 2010 – Silicone-hydrogel lenses that are custom-manufactured are available
How Are Contact Lenses Practical to Use?
The development of the materials used for contact lenses came a long way. It first started with a combination of plastic and glass and then, plastic only. The lenses would fit or cover the entire eye before but the new lenses now are smaller that they can only cover the cornea.
Contact lenses help in correcting vision problems if you do not want to wear eyeglasses. Optical science for over more than 500 years played a role in advancing and developing modern contact lenses.