Early Zeiss fitting set (Courtesy Contact Lens Collection, College of Optometrists)
Edmund Tomkins gained his SMC and BOA diplomas in 1909.He was a dispensing optician and joined the
office of Carl Zeiss as a technician in the ophthalmic lens and instrument
department about 1912.One of his
roles was to call on ophthalmologists and opticians to discuss the merits of
contact lenses.At that time the
only lenses available were either the bespoke blown glass lenses from the firm
of F. Ad. Muller et Sohne in
or the ground glass lenses made by Carl Zeiss of
, also in
Germany.The main interest for these would
be the correction of keratoconus and other visual defects which could not be
improved with spectacles.Tomkins
himself wore contact lenses for demonstration purposes but with a maximum
tolerance of about four hours.
became a partner with George Salnow Martin to form Martin & Tomkins at
25 Margaret Street,
London.In the early 1920s Tomkins had one
of only two sets of Zeiss contact lenses in the country.The other was obtained by a leading
dispensing company, thought to be Hamblins.It is uncertain but very likely that as Tomkins had a fitting set and had
worn contact lenses himself he would have carried out some fitting as well.In later years Tomkins was great friends with Harry Birchall of C. W.
Dixey, another leading firm of dispensing opticians.Martin & Tomkins was taken over by Keeler's during the 1980s.