Contact lenses were first invented by a German glass blower, F.A. Muller, in 1887. Adolph E. Flick, a French physician, successfully fit the first glass contact lens on the human eye in 1888. Contact lenses evolved to become a mainstream vision correction device with the invention of PMMA hard plastic contact lenses by Kevin Tuohy, a California optician, in 1948. A giant breakthrough occurred in 1959 when Czech chemists Otto Wichterle and Drahoslav Lim invented hydrogel plastic. This new plastic product led to the first soft contact lens to be introduced by Bausch & Lomb in 1971.
Contact lenses are now used routinely to correct for vision problems just like glasses. Soft and gas permeable contacts are used for people that are nearsighted, farsighted, have astigmatism or need bifocal correction.
Specialty contact lenses can be used to help medical problems of the eye as well. Gas permeable (hard) contact lenses can be used to help people that have irregular corneas. Larger gas permeable contacts, called scleral lenses, can be used to help conditions like severe dry eye or contact lens intolerance. Contact lenses can be even used as a bandage for corneal abrasions.
Future applications for contact lenses may include drug delivery systems for eye diseases like glaucoma. Microchips may be implanted in contacts to monitor eye health conditions or even transmit video directly to the eye. The future is quite bright for these little pieces of plastic invented over a hundred years ago! Interested in contact lenses? Call for an appointment and we will determine the best option is for you.
Dr. James Ivanoski practices comprehensive optometry at Madison Medical Eye Care. He particularly welcomes hard-to-fit contact lens patients and accepts most insurance plans. For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.MadisonMedicalEyeCare.com.