Optician sadly reports the death of contact lens pioneer and innovator John de Carle at the age of 96.

The Mayfair-based optometrist, who was the first president of the British Contact Lens Association, pioneered the creation of soft permanent contact lenses and helped to bring improved vision to people throughout the world.

Having qualified as an optometrist at Northampton Polytechnical College in London in 1945 de Carle was called up by the Royal Air Force to work in military hospitals, before moving into his own practice in Bond Street.

Fascinated by science, de Carle came up with the idea of producing a soft permanent contact lens, subsequently experimenting with complex polymers to realise the concept while also developing contact lens solutions.

Luke Stevens-Burt, chief executive of the BCLA, said: ‘John de Carle was a true visionary whose determination to produce game-changing innovations made a life-changing difference to millions. His contribution to the contact lens industry was significant and all-encompassing due to his enthusiasm to improve on products and he was involved in many aspects of the business during his life.’

‘His involvement in the development of designs and materials dramatically affected the early pioneering days of contact lenses from his bifocal patent in the early 1960s to his most innovative success with the creation of Permalens through the 1970s and 1980s. He was our first president back in 1977 and his contribution was recognised by the BCLA at the Pioneers Lecture in 2006 with honorary life membership. His work has always been revered by his colleagues and the contact lens profession has lost a legend.’