CONTACT LENS HISTORY

THE OVERSEAS PIONEERS

George Hiram Butterfield

 

George Hiram Butterfield (1895-1973) was born in Portland, Oregon, to a prominent family of jewellers.  He attended Hill Military Academy and the De Kyser Institute of Optometry at Ohio State University, graduating in 1918.  He served as general manager of Butterfield Bros, a jewellery business with an optical department, from 1918-1927, after which he opened his own private practice from 1928-1944.  From 1945-1973 he practised with his son, George Butterfield Jr, in Geo. H. Butterfield & Son also making the Para-Curve and other contact lenses.

He keenly followed all new developments, having a very early ham radio set and one of the first motorcycles in town.  Butterfield, unfit for military service during the First World War, became a licensed electrician working nights in the shipyards.  He was asked by the US Navy to work on plastic contact lenses for their divers and was granted US patent 2544246 6/3/51 for an 11mm corneal lens with the central section in alignment with the cornea and progressively flatter peripheral curves.  The Tuohy lenses tended to be fitted flat, Butterfield's in alignment and those from Gerry Hornstein, to be fitted steep.  Around 1961 he developed the Butterfield Vaulted Micro V lens.

Butterfield had a prolonged patent battle with Tuohy which he finally lost in the California Supreme Court.  He claimed to be the first to fit with soft lenses in the US in the late 1960s and worked on a groove to the inside surface to enhance comfort.

 

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