Big bangs have not been a feature of contact lens development and so it was with the first hard, glass contact lenses to be produced. The concept for a contact lens was first described by Leonardo da Vinci in 1508. It was not until 1827, when the astronomer Sir John Herschel suggested making a mould of the eye’s surface, that products began to emerge. However, it was only in the late 1880s that real product development flourished.
Who exactly fitted the first lens is far from clear. While Eugene Kalt and Adolf Gaston Eugen Fick were developing contact lenses for keratoconus in Switzerland, in Wiesbaden, Germany, the Muller brothers, Friedrich and Albert, developed lenses to protect the eye. All were working around 1887-88 but dates vary depending on the source.
Also in 1887-89, August Muller (another brother) in Gladbach, developed a lens to correct his own -14.00D of myopia. Nigel Burnet Hodd recounted in the centenary edition of Optician: ‘This was the first ever lens made to correct ametropia. The lens was inserted underwater and could only be worn for 30 minutes with the aid of cocaine.’
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