What are Contact Lenses or Simply Contacts?
A contact lens is designed to be placed on the cornea of the eye as a vision correcting, cosmetic, or therapeutic device.
Contact Lens History
The first idea of contact lenses is credited to Leonardo Da Vinci in 1508. In 1636, Descartes described an idea of a tube filled with water with a shaped end to correct the vision of the eye.
Contact lenses have been around for over 100 years. Adolf Fick developed the first successful contact lens in 1887.The lenses were made from glass, fit over the cornea onto the sclera, and could only be worn for a few hours due to discomfort.
The first corneal contact lens was used in 1949. The first corneal lens was made out of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). These lenses did not allow oxygen to permeate through the lens causing edema of the cornea. Many times small holes were drilled in the peripheral portion of the lenses. This would help tears circulate under the lens and help with reducing corneal edema. The poor quality of the designs made the lenses uncomfortable and difficult to wear the lenses for any length of time.
In the 1980s gas permeable lenses were developed and new polymers have continued to be developed which allow oxygen to permeate through the lens. These lenses are still used today and provide excellent vision.
The first soft contact lenses were developed in the 1960s and were approved by the FDA in the United States in 1971. These contact lenses are comfortable almost immediately.
Different Uses for Contacts
There are approximately 30 million people wearing contacts in the United States. People wear them for a variety of reasons;
Cosmetic appearance is a concern for many people as in not liking glasses, changing the color of one’s eye.
Many people prefer the vision with contacts versus glasses.
Sports is common as there are problems wearing glasses in contact sports, glasses can fog up during outdoor events, better peripheral vision, and weathers conditions while wearing glasses are a problem.
Contacts lenses can be used to treat certain eye conditions.