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Who invented contact lenses?

Have you ever wondered who invented contact lenses and how they were first created? The debate on that question is rampant, but the history and timeline of how these transformative lenses were developed will surprise you. Today, we’ll be talking about the individuals that revolutionised one of today’s most widely used medical devices.

Who invented contact lenses?

Contact lenses have been around for quite some time, but their history is not as simple as you might think. A single person did not invent the first contact lens – it was a combination of ideas from multiple inventors.

A brief history

The first person to suggest the idea of contact lenses

was Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), although it was another three centuries before his idea came to fruition.

In 1827, Sir John Herschel, an English astronomer, also came up with the idea of making moulds of a person’s eyes to correct vision problems such as nearsightedness and farsightedness.

50 years later, someone finally built a working prototype of Herschel’s concept, but there is some debate about who actually came up with it first.

It is believed that F.A. Muller, a German glassblower, was the first person to invent contact lenses in 1887. This lens was uncomfortable, expensive, and difficult to use, but it did pave the way for future advancements in contact-lens technology.

German ophthalmologist Adolf Eugen Fick and Paris optician Edouard Kalt are also credited with the invention of contact lenses in 1888. Kevin Tuohy invented the corneal contact lens in 1948, which covers only the cornea and measures 10 to 12 millimetres in diameter. It was entirely made of polymethyl methacrylate. The invention had no frames to obstruct vision and minimised distortions, offering a natural field of view.

The development of soft contact lenses

In early 1959, Czech chemist Otto Wichterle and his colleague Drahoslav Lim made a startling discovery that would eventually lead to the launch of the first FDA-approved contact lenses in 1971. They invented the soft contact lens – a giant leap forward in eye care.

Their invention was a significant improvement over hard lenses already available at the time. Soft contact lenses are made of material which are safe, comfortable and easy to handle. They’re also more comfortable than hard lenses due to the materials used.

Final thoughts

The question of who invented contact lenses is open to debate. Contact lenses have a history that goes back further than many people know. Many inventors contributed to the development of contact lenses throughout the last centuries. Each person involved had a role to play in the development of these devices to the point where they are widely used today. That said, F. A. Muller is credited with bringing Sir John Herschel’s concept to reality by creating the first contact lenses in 1887.

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