CONTACT LENS HISTORY

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A CHRONOLOGY OF THE EARLY DEVELOPMENTS

[ A Glossary of technical terms ]

1807 Thomas Young publishes his description of neutralising the cornea with fluid in A Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy and the Mechanical Arts. Thomas Young - Illustration showing neutralisation of the cornea,
1827 John Herschel suggests neutralising the cornea with a mould made from gelatine ('a transparent animal jelly contained in a spherical glass capsule').
1887 Friedrich Anton Muller of Wiesbaden manufactures a blown glass shell to provide corneal coverage.  The kontakt-schale had a clear corneal section with opaque scleral portion.  (Illustration courtesy the Contact Lens Collection of the College of Optometrists). Blown glass shells from the Mullers of Wiesbaden.
1888 Adolf Fick takes moulds of human eyes and uses both blown and glass shells.  (Illustration from Hundert Jahre Kontaktlinse, A. Brachner, VDC 1988). Adolf Fick scleral lens design.
1888 Eugen Kalt uses a blown glass shell to compress the cornea in a case of keratoconus.
1888

Carl Zeiss produces glass scleral lenses.

1889 August Muller appreciates the theoretical optical advantages of contact lenses.  He takes moulds of human eyes to assesses the radius of both the cornea and sclera.
1909 The Muller Brothers begin the regular production of blown glass lenses.
1912 The Zeiss company begin the production of contact lens fitting sets.  It experiments unsuccessfully with glass corneal lenses. Zeiss fitting set.
1927 Dick Smellie in England begins fitting Zeiss lenses while working with Hamblins.  Dick Smellie
1927 Adolf Muller-Welt produces his first moulded fluidless contact lens.  Two years later he changes to blowing glass lenses.  (Illustration courtesy the Contact Lens Collection of the College of Optometrists). Mueller-Welt scleral contact lenses.
1929 Josef Dallos takes moulds of living human eyes using Negocoll and successfully produces contact lenses.

 

Negocoll used for moulding eyes by Dallos.
1929 Leopold Heine suggests a fitting technique which uses afocal contact lenses.  They correct the ametropia by  using different corneal radii which vary the liquid lens power.
1931 Andrew Rugg-Gunn uses the afocal Zeiss lenses developed by Heine at London's Western Ophthalmic Hospital. Andrew Rugg-Gunn
1935 C. H. S. Sattler, having used Zeiss lenses for about four years, describes signs of intolerance to contact lenses such as the corneal haze which becomes known as 'Sattler's Veil'.  (Illustration courtesy the Contact Lens Collection of the College of Optometrists).
1938 Theodore Obrig in the USA discovers that using a cobalt blue filter for illumination causes fluorescein to fluoresce.  (Illustration courtesy the Contact Lens Collection of the College of Optometrists). Fluorecein
1937 Charles Keeler in collaboration with Clement Clarke begins fitting lenses in England using techniques learned from Dallos.  (From Keeler: Seventy-Five Years of Innovation).

Keeler scleral contact lenses.

1937 Istvan Gyorrfy in Hungary begins to use polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) to make scleral lenses from moulds taken of the human eye.
1945 Norman Bier is granted a patent for the fenestration of PMMA scleral lenses.  This ventilates the cornea and creates an air bubble which moves on excursions of the eye.  (Illustration from Contact Lens Routine and Practice, Norman Bier, 1953). Fenestrated scleral lens with bubble.
1946 George Nissel sets up his laboratory in central London and begins lens production. George Nissel price list.
1948 Frederick Ridley becomes the first official head of the contact lens department at Moorfields eye hospital which had been originally set up by Ida Mann. Moorfields eye hospital contact lens clinic.

 

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