Contact lenses aren't a topic that naturally lend themselves to excitement. Sure, it's nice to invisibly improve your vision, but that's about where contact lens excitement ends. However, there are a variety of moments in contact lens history that are interesting enough to change your mind on your invisible helpers.
Leonardo Da Vinci Invents the Concept
Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the most amazing people who ever lived. His scientific and artistic abilities were so vast, that he predicted planes and submarines, painted masterpieces and even predicted corrective contact lenses.
Da Vinci wrote a paper called "Codex of the Eye" in 1508, which described a method of fitting the eye with a water-filled lens to naturally improve vision. Though he never made a working model, his astuteness is, as always, astonishing.
Modern Inventor Tested on Cadavers
German Scientist Adolf Gaston Eugen Fick is generally considered the first inventor of modern contact lenses. His early lenses, made in the late 1800's, were made of glass blown to diameters of 19, 20 and 21 mm and were designed to fit (rather uncomfortably) over the eye.
How did Fick cast the mold for his lenses? Simple: he started by getting casts on rabbit eyes and moved on to removed cadaver eyes. He then placed his bicurve lenses over his own eye and wore it for two hours before it had to be removed.
The First Usable Contact Lenses Didn't Allow Oxygen to the Eye
Though Fick soon abandoned work on his uncomfortable and unwieldy lenses, the first corneal lenses were perfected in 1949. They could be worn for up to 16 hours at a time, but wearers soon developed red, dry eyes due to one simple design flaw: they didn't allow oxygen to reach the eyeball.
That's because they fit completely over the surface of the eye and blocked it from the elements. It wasn't until 1971 that soft contact lenses, which allowed oxygen to the eyeball, were developed.
Creation of Telescopic Contact Lenses
The progress of contact lenses was fairly stable after the creation of soft lenses: beyond a few simple tweaks, few amazing jumps in contact lens science were unveiled. Until 2013, when the world's first telescopic lenses were developed.
These lenses, essentially, create a bionic eye that allows you to zoom your vision almost three times normal strength. Amazingly, these lenses are only 1.17 mm thick, which makes them fully comfortable to wear.
The future of contact lens is unlimited: perhaps nanotech lenses will be made that are designed to actually repair the eyeball over time and improve your vision to unimaginable levels. Only time will tell. Talk to people like Robert A. Marini, OD for more information.