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50 years after the invention of the first soft lenses

50 years after the invention of the first soft lenses

Petr 27. 09. 2021 Blog

50 years after the invention of the first soft lenses (2011)

Otto Wichterle - inventor of the contact lenses
We would like to remind you this beautiful 50th anniversary of the first production of soft contact lenses Czech scientist and inventor Otto Wichterle . The first lens of soft material made ​​by Professor Wichterle exactly on Christmas Day 1961. Since then soft contact lenses have come a long way and today sweeten the lives of more than 100 million users worldwide .

As he began the story of soft contact lenses? Start A successful invention commemorate our memory of Otto Wichterle and his incredible invention .
Tip ! Until 31 December the 50th Anniversary exhibition held Otto Wichterle - scientist and inventor.
Most of us are familiar with Mr. Wichterleho as the inventor of soft contact lenses, which of Merkur made ​​the day before Christmas Eve 1961, the first prototype machines for the production of contact lenses.
In his book Memories states: "The day before Christmas Eve [ 1961 ] I was at home in this kit [ Merkur ] compiled a new prototype casting equipment , in which I used the drive dynamo of a bicycle of our boys . Dynamko When he joined the bell transformer , worked as a motor with a totally accurate speed by frequency alternating current. from the Laboratory Institute of Chemical Technology I brought monomers and catalysts , as well as two-liter cylinder , which was originally in an oxygen device from the estate of Luftwaffe . bottle I rinsed with argon and pushed me to be home supply neutral shielding gas . On Christmas Eve afternoon I Mercury apparatus in motion and he cast the first four lenses ... " .
Contact lenses production
He managed to make a first contact lens 4 , which had a regular rim. He did not hesitate , and on Christmas Day , along with Dr. Dreifus test the second Eye Clinic in Prague.

If we imagine that the idea of ​​producing contact lenses flirted in 1952 and, after initial setbacks , he was banned by the Ministry of Health research has accelerated the production of the first pieces of things fast gradient lenses - at the end of 1961 had already been filed patent application . Thanks to his skill and passion to prepare an effective and inexpensive apparatus perfected his machine so that it managed to produce one batch (ie 15 lenses ) for 10-15 minutes. It's unbelievable, but this machine could produce several hundred contact lenses for a week.
In his book Memories describes the first four months were able , together with his wife , whom he in the manufacture of contact lenses almost every night turns , to cast up to five thousand five hundred pieces. Since then, Wichterle participated in many conferences, foreign visits and presentations, and tried to arouse the interest of a soft hydrogel contact lenses. Meanwhile, tried to production of lenses on improving margins lens material and process.
Another milestone in the efforts of the new invention was the year 1963 when the Wichterle in London met with George Nissel ( manufacturer of hard contact lenses ) , and that the postesknul it would be good if the hydrogels gave machined . It was a challenge and another way to produce soft contact lenses. First, the material is gouged out , honed and polished in the dry state and subsequently allowed to swell in water. In promoting these lenses aroused astonishment and ophthalmologists and optometrists take them as a curiosity . It was unimaginable for them ( as for us today , but in terms of hygiene ) , when the inventor contact lens from the eye removed , placed it on the ground, trampled her, " disinfected " in the mouth and then put back . (This really try today ! :))
This innovation is accepted by most experts with contempt and did not give her a great chance for mass distribution. Ironically, the greatest interest was U.S. brokers , lawyers, Jerome Feldman and Martin Pollak , who was represented by National Patent Development Corporation . Able to make the most of fluctuation in the price of the shares by public opinion , which was mainly influenced by newspaper articles (eg that these lenses are highly carcinogenic ) . And so the company got rich without selling a single contact lens .
In 1965, then license a patent for the production of soft lenses purchased by Bausch & Lomb , which has since focused on the promotion of lenses and contact lenses began to slowly engulfing the world .

Update 12/6/2024

Some documents give the date of invention of contact lenses as 1959

It is almost unbelievable that we published this article 13 years ago. :)