CONTACT LENS HISTORY
THE UK PIONEERS
Kelvin Watson (1911-1974)
Raymond Kelvin Watson came from an optical background.
He began fitting contact lenses during 1945 in his own successful
Despite post-war difficulties, he set up a workshop with a small group of friends making scleral lenses and this became Kelvin Lenses Ltd. In 1946 he spent several months in the US but was disillusioned with the commercial way in which lenses were sold there.
He was impressed by Feinbloom whose lens design was based on a conical section resting tangentially on the globe. This Feincone lens was more comfortable than the Zeiss lenses but he decided that a combination of the two might prove even better. He designed a conical transition 5 mm wide and developed a manufacturing process using a metal mould with several parts. He used 50 main tools with 15 inserts and over a 100 buttons. All the metal tools were hand polished. Between 1947 and 1948 he sold more than 120 50 lens fitting sets. Toroidal tools were also introduced. The lenses were originally sealed but later were fenestrated.
From 1948 his partners dropped out and he ran the company
on his own. He introduced contact
From the 1950s Watson adapted his moulding technique to
producing corneal lenses and he eventually manufactured several thousand per
month. Compared with other
laboratories using lathes, he achieved greater consistency and reproducibility.
A more advanced design, the continuous curve, emerged during the 1960s
and the laboratory moved to larger premises in
Kelvin X-Ten soft contact lens
'Twenty Years After - The Story of Moulded Contact Lenses', R. K. Watson, The Contact Lens J., 1965
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