The History of Eyeglasses and Contacts
You have seen the images of ancient scholars reading books holding their spectacles by the hand, but do you know when eyeglasses were first invented or why? Eyeglasses were designed to help correct an individual’s vision defects. As time progressed so did technology and the contact lens was invented. The contact lens was a new alternative way to help vision problems. These simple devises are used to make our lives more convenient by allowing us to magnify images so we can see more clearly. Take a look at our authoritative resources below to learn more about eyeglasses and contacts throughout history.
History of Glasses
The oldest known lens dates back to around 1000 AD. This is when people would lay a glass sphere on top of their reading material to magnify the letters. This was called the reading stone. Today we know it as the magnified glass. One of the first wearable pair of eyeglasses is credited to an Italian man named Salvino D'Armate around 1284. It was not until the mid-1300’s that the first pictorial evidence was produced. In later developments American scientist Benjamin Franklin invented the bifocals and, in 1825 British astronomer George Airy invented the first lens that would correct astigmatism. Over time spectacle frames evolved. Frames were first designed to be held in your hand then as time and technology progressed they were to be placed on your head with a ribbon. It wasn’t until the early 1700’s that the modern style of glasses that go behind your ears was developed.
Types of Glasses
Since the development of eye glasses there have been numerous types of glasses produced. There are corrective lenses, bifocal, trifocal and progressive lenses. Then you have safety glasses, sunglasses, 3D glasses and reading glasses. Corrective lenses are used to correct errors in your vision. People that have astigmatism, nearsightedness or farsightedness use these lenses to alleviate the effects of the condition in their eyes and correct the errors. As people age they may need to use lenses such as bifocal, trifocal or progressive. These lenses are intended help people focus more clearly by using multiple lenses. Safety glasses help protect your eyes from getting any debris inside them while working with objects, while sunglasses protect your eyes from the sunlight. 3D spectacles create an illusion of three dimensions by creating different visual information for each eye. These types of glasses are usually worn when watching a movie at the theater. Lastly, you have reading glasses. Ready-made reading glasses are used to treat mild cases of visual impairment. These glasses help individuals correct their vision and make reading more comfortable.
Throughout most of history eyeglasses were seen as unfashionable and if you wore them you were stigmatized as weak or elderly. It wasn’t until the 1900’s when Theodore Roosevelt and comedian Harold Lloyd began wearing them and the stigma began to fall. Since then, eyeglasses have become fashionable and for some they are a key accessory to their image. For celebrities such as Drew Carey and Superman Clark Kent eyeglasses have become a staple in their appearance. There are various styles of eyeglasses that have become fashionable throughout the 20th century. Spectacles such as Horn-rimmed glasses and Cat eye glasses have come in and out of popularity. Then you have Brownline glasses that were popular in the 1950’s and Bug-eye glasses that have been popular for decades.
Not all glasses can be bought off of the shelf. An individual can obtain a pair of eyeglasses once it is determined by a trained optician or qualified optometrist or ophthalmologist. Once you have a proper eye examination a prescription can be written. Then the result is usually less visual discomfort and improved visual correction.
History of Contact Lenses
Contact lenses were an idea that came to mind by an individual named sir John Herschel around 1845. Although he never tested his idea, several inventors did. It wasn’t until a German eyeglass maker F.E Mueller produced the first eye covering to help a cancer patient’s lid that was destroyed by cancer. In 1887 Dr. Eugene Fick a German ophthalmologist developed the first successful contact lens and published his results in a respected journal. In the early 1900’s an optometrist named William Feinbloom introduced a lighter more convenient plastic lens. In the 1960’s is when the first breakthrough of soft contact lenses were made by two Czech chemists named Otto Wichterle and Drahoslav Lim. This led to the approval of the soft lens from the United States Federal Drug Administration (FDA).Today these soft lenses are prescribed more often the hard original lens.
Types of Contact Lenses
There are three main types of contact lenses: Corrective, Cosmetic and Therapeutic. Corrective contact lenses are made to improve an individual’s vision. A corrective contact lens can correct near and shortsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia. Cosmetic lenses are used to change the appearance of the eye. The FDA calls this type of lens a “decorative lens” because it alters the color and/or design of the eye. These lenses can also correct the vision but may cause irritation. Therapeutic contact lenses are often used to treat disorders of the eye, if the cornea is diseased or injured it can allow it to heal.
Manufacturing of Contact Lenses
Contact lenses can be manufactured by several ways: spin casting, diamond turning, hybrids and molding. Spin casting a lens is when a manufacturer spins liquid silicone at high speeds. Diamond turning a contact lens is when the contact is cut and polished by using a tool that rotates the object on its axis. Molding and hybrid are two other ways to produce soft contact lenses. In the United States there are four major manufactures that mass produce contact lenses: Bausch & Lomb, Cooper Vision, Ciba Vision (Novartis)and Acuvue/Vistakon (Johnson & Johnson). These companies use different methods to produce their contacts.
Prescriptions for contact lenses are similar to eyeglasses but they are not interchangeable. Individuals that are looking to get contacts must see a qualified optician in order to receive a prescription. Not every individual qualifies to receive contact lenses. The optician can determine the individual’s eligibility during an eye exam. Dry eyes and allergies are just a few reasons why individuals may not be able to wear contact lenses successfully.
Roughly 5 percent of contact users have complications due to their contact lenses. This can occur when individuals wear their lenses for an extended amount of time, particularly overnight. This can affect the eyelid and the cornea and even tear the surface of the eye. Eye doctors recommend talking the lenses out each night so users will not have any complications.
When inserting a contact lens it is important to first thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. Use a soap that does not contain any fragrances that will destroy the natural bacteria that is found on the eye. The insertion and removal of contacts will require some practice but is typically easy to get the hang of. Daily lenses require no cleaning but other types require cleaning with a multipurpose solution. To prevent discomfort and infections clean contacts daily and do not sleep with them in.