History of Contact Lenses

Woman inserting a contact lens in eye.

Woman inserting a contact lens in eye.

Contact lenses are so commonly worn today that people don’t give them a second thought. Did you know that the concept for contact lenses goes all the way back to Leonardo DaVinci who described them back in 1508. Many scientists experimented with different materials over the next few centuries with only a little success. It was in the late 1800’s that German scientists devised a  prototype of a contact lens made from a thin piece of glass that covered the entire eye. In the early 1900’s it became possible to make a mold of the entire eye and this helped to make lenses that fit better.  By the 1950’s plastics were being developed that could be made thinner and with a better fit for the eye and they were replacing glass as the material of choice for contact lenses.  In 1960 the company Bausch and Lomb developed a technique to cast hydrogel, a plastic material that could be molded and shaped when wet, which allowed for the production of lenses that were able to be mass produced and of extremely high quality. Today lenses are much more comfortable than the lenses made 20 years ago. They can be worn for long periods of time and they allow the eye to breathe which earlier versions couldn’t do.
If you would like to make an appointment with our ophthalmology department please call 718-206-5900.

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