CONTACT LENS HISTORY
THE OVERSEAS PIONEERS
Adolf Wilhelm Mueller-Welt
Adolf Wilhelm Mueller-Welt (1904-1972) was the son of Adolf Alvin Mueller (1872-1937),
an artificial eye maker in Lauscha,
1900 his father produced a scleral lens but as he needed to make 70-80 for one
good one he abandoned the idea. During
1920 the family moved to
Mueller-Welt scleral lenses
(Courtesy College of Optometrists, Contact Lens Collection)
1935 paper in Klinische Monsalsblatter Fur
Augenheilkunde described his lenses as blown over a series of pre-formed
toric castings for the scleral portion whilst the optic was ground and polished
for power. So stable were the lenses
that they could be transferred from boiling to iced water without breaking.
The back surface matched the corneal curvature as closely as possible,
giving a liquid capillary lens. Fitting
sets contained 20-120 lenses allowing variations in fit, size and power.
Wearing times of 6-7 hours were achieved compared to only three-quarters
of an hour with Zeiss lenses.
1936 Mueller-Welt developed a 12-spindle machine for grinding and polishing,
creating sets of 5,000-6,000 lenses. He
perfected the first thickness control in 1939 and the first automatic annealing
ovens in 1940. In 1941 he purchased
a slit lamp and started to work on corneal lesions, oedema and fluorescein
observation. Army officers were not
allowed to wear spectacles in uniform so Adolf, his wife Ruth and assistant Fraulein Leipold,
travelled extensively with tens of thousands of lenses to fit from stock.
After the war many allied soldiers took Mueller-Welt lenses back home.
Polte, formerly of Zeiss, joined and improved the production line with 24
spindle machines and diamond-cutting tools.
Massive inflation increased glass costs so Mueller-Welt made brass male
and female moulds with a ball bearing, ground to power, in the centre of the
male mould. The moulds were closed
and plastic was injected. By 1948
they had started making corneal lenses.
1949 Mueller-Welt, unable to enter
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