Introduction to the Overseas Pioneers


For these pages we have selected the pioneers who lived and worked overseas.  They span the period from the mid nineteenth to the late twentieth centuries. A few of the names may be familiar but most are now scarcely remembered figures from the early days of contact lenses.  Their inspiration, however, developed first scleral, then corneal and more recently soft lenses; in addition, they conceived ingenious designs and created new materials.


The criteria we have adopted for these overseas pioneers are similar to those we used for their British counterparts:


They made a significant contribution to the development of contact lenses.

They lived and worked outside the UK

They are deceased.


Fortunately this means that we can omit some very obvious individuals who by other definitions would already be of pioneering status.  The pioneers given here are presented in approximately chronological order to portray the history of contact lenses through their early achievements.  In some cases we have grouped them together where they are closely linked by background or circumstance, or where their developments were near enough simultaneous.


It will be apparent from reading these brief biographies that the development of contact lenses has benefited from some very talented people.  Some were inspired by their own visual difficulties: others by the fascination of the subject itself.  There was extensive worldwide co-operation and like the British pioneers came from all disciplines, medical, optometric, technical or purely academic.  These multidisciplinary and international activities are still with us today and are reflected in the current nature of the British Contact Lens Association.


In addition we have accorded an Honourable Mention to a number of individuals who have played a small but significant part in the development and history of contact lenses 


Finally, we will always be pleased to receive further details about any of the selected pioneers where our research has discovered only the briefest of information or about any figures of note who fulfil our criteria but have been inadvertently omitted.


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