There are many different people who have been given credit for inventing the corrective eyewear that people are using today. One name in particular, Leonardo Di Vinci, stands out among them, however he simply put his head in a bowl of water to see how this would affect the eye. This is a long way from the Acuvue contact lenses people use today for corrective vision, changing their appearance with different colors for their eyes and to help protect their corneas from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Several glassblowers gave the small corrective lenses a try, but were unsuccessful because most protruded too far and made blinking the eye nearly impossible. Adolf Gaston Eugen Fick, a German ophthalmologist created the first successful contact lens back in 1887. He experimented with the curved shapes that rested on the rim of the cornea and put them in his pet rabbits first and then in his own eyes. But again, they were made of heavy blown glass and could only be tolerated for a couple of hours at a time. This is a far cry from the 30-day extended wear lenses people use today and the ‘breathable’ style which allows air and fluids to pass through the small round discs.
A combination of plastic and glass were melded together to form the first commercial contacts in 1936. They were lighter and better tolerated then the heavy glass lenses of the beginning days. It was in 1949 that the first lens to actually curve to the cornea came out and could be worn for up to 16 hours a day.
The lenses that came after those earlier ones, in the 50’s and 60’s were very expensive and those who could afford them were urged to take out contact lens insurance. The need for insurance became a thing of the past, like the old thick glass contacts, back in 1994 because contacts became less fragile and many were now disposable. They remained on the expensive side, but insurance was not something that was necessary.
The flexible material was still less ‘breathable’ and caused a whole host of eye problems for those who were susceptible to eye irritations or infections. The ‘soft-lens’ materials were introduced in the early 70’s and approved by the FDA, Food and Drug Administration, at which time millions of people began taking off their glasses and switching to contacts. These lenses were better in terms of the oxygen they allowed to penetrate through the lens and onto the cornea, an important aspect of good eye care.
Disposable lenses came from a British optometrist, Rishi Agarwal. The idea that someone could wear a contact and then throw it away after a day’s use was unheard of until 1972. This revolutionized the industry and a whole new group of glass wearers began to convert to contacts. There were and always will be those people who can not or will not tolerate something lying on their cornea, no matter how comfortable, lightweight or ‘breathable’ it is. This is why the eyeglass manufacturing industry is still going strong even though contacts are as popular as ever.
It is estimated that there are over 125 million individuals who wear contact lenses in the world today, approximately 38 million of them are in America and 13 million are located in Japan. The lenses prescribed in Japan and other countries are mainly the more ridged style and the ones in the United States are typically the soft style. Both styles come with a thin layer of UV protective coating because manufacturers and eye doctors know how important it is to protect ones eyes from the dangers of the sun.
There are many different types of Acuvue contact lenses available for various conditions of corrective sight, changing ones eye color or even changing the shape of ones eyes. Changing the shape of the eye is popular in Japan and used a lot in the entertainment industry for horror movies. When shopping around for corrective contacts, an individual should always opt for the UV protection tinting; it is often invisible when looking through the lens and will help to protect delicate corneas from the harsh rays.
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