By Megan Zabell, BOptom, Professional Affairs Associate, Alcon ANZ
This CPD course is now available on Specsavers MyCPD Portal.
The use of soft contact lenses is something we and our patients take for granted. There are expectations to be able to easily select a lens which will fit well, provide excellent vision and comfort. Whilst a comfortable-fitting, easily-available healthy contact lens seems like a reasonable expectation in the year 2020, it wasn’t too long ago nothing of the sort existed! The following is a brief history of contact lens wear, with an emphasis on soft contact lenses, the positive aspects and drawbacks of various material types, and the subsequent development of two different daily disposable lens types from Alcon with unique surface technologies.
The idea of using a contact lens to correct vision first moved from concept to reality when Müller and Müller, makers of ocular prostheses, fitted a patient with a glass shield to protect the anterior eye from exposure subsequent to missing/malformed upper and lower lids (1). The lens had no refractive power, however, it can be considered the first application of extended or continuous wear contact lenses, as the shield was worn day and night continuously for 20 years (1). Lenses with no refractive power were further popularized by Adolf Eugen Fick with the publication of his article Eine Contactbrille (translation: A Contact-Lens) in the journal currently known as Graefes Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology in 1988 (1). After animal trials involving rabbits he fit first himself and then 6 subjects with a blown-glass contact lens – while these lenses provided no refractive power, he had hoped to correct corneal distortions with the smooth optical surface of the lens (1). The first contact lens to incorporate a refractive power component came just a year later, when August Müller corrected his own high myopia with a powered contact lens (1).
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