History of Contact Lenses

Leonardo Da Vinci's sketch of contact lensesDifferent kinds of lenses have been used for centuries to correct eye vision. The first eyeglasses were apparently developed by Salvino D'Armante around 1284 in Pisa, Italy, however some like to credit Alessandro Spina from Firenze with this invention.

The first eyeglasses were used to correct myopia (nearsightedness). Glasses for farsightedness were not made until the 15th century.

Leonardo da Vinci drew sketches of contact lenses as early as 1508. In the 1820s Sir John Herschel, a British astronomer, suggested a lens that would fit one's eye shape exactly. However, creating a mold of the eye shape proved impossible before the invention of anesthesia.

A German manufacturer of glass eyes, F.A. Müller, created in 1887 a transparent lens to protect a damaged eyeball. The first real contact lenses were made in 1888 by Swiss physician A. Eugen Fick and Parisian optic Edouard Kalt, each on their own. The honor is usually attributed to Fick, who first created molds of rabbit eyes and later manufactured lenses for himself. According to historical records, these first lenses were extremely uncomfortable and he was able to use them for only two hours.

As techniques developed, the lenses became better fitting. However, the material used was still glass, which deprived the eye of oxygen and increased the risk of infections.

Part 2/2: Modern contact lenses

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