CONTACT LENS HISTORY

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A CHRONOLOGY OF SOFT LENSES

[ A Glossary of technical terms ]

1961 Otto Wichterle conceives and begins the production of soft lenses by spinning HEMA in an open rotating mould.  The early experimental Geltakt lenses are followed by the mass production Spofalens(Illustration courtesy the Contact Lens Collection of the College of Optometrists).

Geltakt soft contact lens from Wichterle

1969 The Bionite Naturalens is introduced in the USA by Allen Isen, subsequently to be sold in the UK by Contactalens.  This is the first company to consider hydrogen peroxide as a method for soft lens disinfection and also introduces the concept of sagittal height for lens fitting.  (Illustration courtesy the Contact Lens Collection of the College of Optometrists).

Bionite soft contact lens.

1971 Bausch & Lomb obtain FDA approval for their HEMA spun cast lenses.  The first lenses are the C Series of monocurve construction, followed soon after by the F and N Series.

Bausch & Lomb original C Series soft lens.

1972 The Permalens is introduced together with the concept of extended wear by UK company, Global Vision.  This is  subsequently taken over by  CooperVision, Pilkington Barnes-Hind and CibaVision.

Permalens soft lens for long term continuous wear.

1973 Hydron lathed HEMA lenses are introduced to the UK.  (Illustration courtesy the Contact Lens Collection of the College of Optometrists).

Hydron soft contact lens.

1973 Sauflon lenses with a 70% water content are introduced by Contact Lenses Manufacturing.  These are followed by Sauflon 85 for 'permanent wear' and Sauflex 55.

Sauflon PW soft lens for extended wear.

1974 Don Brucker gains FDA approval for a New Drug Application for Hydrocurve lenses,  manufactured from Hefilcon A.  From 1977 lenses are made from a different material, Bufilcon, which is used to produce ultrathin and toric lenses. Hydrocurve soft contact lens.
1974 Weicon toric lenses and dynamic stabilisation are introduced by Titmus Eurocon in Germany.

Titmus-Eurocon toric soft contact lens.

1975 Wohlk in Germany create the Hydroflex/m, the first corneal size 'mini' lens' with usual diameters of 12.50 and 13.00 mm.  The red numbers represent codes engraved on the lens periphery for identification purposes.
1975 Bausch & Lomb introduce the 03 and 04 Series of hyperthin lenses with diameters of 13.50 mm and 14.50 mm respectively.  With a centre thickness of 0.035 mm, these are used for both daily and extended wear. Bausch & Lomb hyperthin soft contact lens.
1977 Barnes-Hind introduce the first progressive aspheric multifocal soft lens, the Hydrocurve bifocal.

Hydrocurve bifocal soft contact lens.

1977 Silicone elastomers are introduced by Wohlk (Silflex) and Titimus-Eurocon (Tesicon).

Silflex silicone elastomer lens from Wohlk.

1979 Hydron Z6 lenses are designed to be ultrathin centrally at 0.06 mm with a thicker periphery to assist handling.

Hydron Zero 6 HEMA soft lens.

1979 Duragel 75 is introduced from Scandinavia as a high water content "daily wear lens with extended wear capability." Duragel soft contact lens.
1981 CSI and CSI-thin are introduced as non-HEMA soft lenses from Syntex.

CSI soft contact lens from Syntex.

1984 Bausch & Lomb launch the PA1 concentric bifocal which works on the principle of simultaneous vision.  This is later followed by a crescent bifocal which displaces on downwards gaze to give alternating vision.

Bausch & Lomb PA1 bifocal soft contact lens.

1985 University Optical produce the Alges bifocal, manufactured with different sizes of centre near segments. Alges bifocal lens.
1992 Softperm - originally called Saturn - is introduced as a combination lens with a hard gas-permeable centre surrounded by a soft skirt.  This is intended to give the vision of a hard lens with the improved comfort of a soft lens and is used for keratoconus and corneal grafts. Softperm hard soft combination lens.
1999 Silicone hydrogels are introduced as Purevision by Bausch & Lomb and Night & Day by CibaVision Purevision silicone hydrogel soft contact lens.

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