Who Invented Bifocal Contact Lenses? – Mystery Solved

Before we get to the invention bifocal contact lens, we need to go back a bit further to see the evolution of contact lenses. The idea of the general principal of a contact lens was made by none other than Leonardo Di Vinci in 1508, yes the famous artists who painted Mona Lisa! Not only was he a painter he was also a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer. That is a story for another article (a whole book even), so let us get back to the invention of contact lenses.

It wasn’t until the 1800’s that the contact lens made another leap forward. In 1827 Sir John Herschel an English astronomer, proposed the idea of making a mold of the wearer’s eyes so contact lenses can be made to conform perfectly to the front of the eye. His idea was slightly ahead of the manufacturing techniques at the time.

Not until 1887 was the idea made into reality by German glassblower F.A. Muller, who made the first glass contact lens. In 1888 Swiss Physician Adolf Fick and Paris Optician Edouard Kalt used Muller’s invention to fit the first glass contacts to correct nearsightedness and farsightedness. These lenses were heavy and could only be tolerated for a few hours.

The next significant leap forward came in the 1930s when the first contact lens containing both glass and plastic was introduced by New York Optometrist William Feinbloom. This was the beginning of the modern hard contact lens era. In the late 1940s marks the beginning of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) plastic lenses manufactured by California optician Kevin Tuohy. The PMMA evolved, getting smaller and thinner and are still available on the market today.

It wasn’t until the 1950s saw the evolution into the soft contact lens by Czech chemist Dr. Otto Wichterle. His experiments using spinning parts from his son’s bicycle led him to produce the first soft contact lens. The first commercially produced soft contact lenses were made by Bausch & Lomb in 1971. Over 90% of the contact lenses on the market today are soft lenses. Due to their ease of handling and disposable convenience, these lens are perfect for those who no longer want to wear glasses.

The first commercially available bifocal contact lenses (daily wear) were introduced in 1982 and the disposable versions in 1999.

As you can see contact lenses were more of an evolution, with each inventor building and advancing from a previous idea. It took over 500 years to get where we are today but I am sure glad we have this amazing invention that many of us can benefit from.

More on Bifocal Contact Lenses

These lenses are for people who have a condition called presbyopia or the inability to focus on things in close range. If you have to hold that menu at arms length to read it, you might have presbyopia. Some physical symptoms might include blurred vision, headaches, eye strain or eye fatigue. If you are tired of wearing bifocal glasses, bifocal contact lenses might be the perfect solution for you.

Bifocal contact lenses are also known as Multifocal or Progressive contacts. They all pretty much serve the same purpose, allowing you to see clearly near and far and all distances in between.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article, I hope you enjoyed it.