Since the 1930s plastic contact lenses have proven an effective means of aiding visual acuity. Much earlier there were glass lenses, and in recent years, lenses made of hydrophilic gel materials. Designs and materials have changed through the years. Early contact lenses, fabricating devices, lens supplies, photos and documents are part of ILAMO’s museum collection.
Otto Wichterle, scientist and chemical engineer from Czechoslovakia, discovered a hydrogel polymer that would revolutionize the contact lens field. In the 1960s he developed a spincasting method to manufacture soft lenses that allowed them to be made inexpensively and with high quality. This shows an early prototype of the device, early lenses, and photos related to Wichterle.
Early contact lenses and apparatus
Showing a variety of contact lenses and fitting sets, this photo includes a contact lens molding device patented by Dr. Reuben Greenspoon in 1946.
Early contact lenses and press
Obrig lenses and scleral lens press; VUE-CON insertion guide for correct lens placement
Scleral contact lenses and prosthetic eye
Greenspoons lens molding apparatus
Reuben Greenspoon, O.D. patented this device in 1946. By using numbered trial test lenses and small plastic sheets, he could form accurately fitting contact lenses without having to make individual plaster molds directly from his patients eyes.
Drawing made for Dr. Greenspoons contact lens molding device patent, 1946
Contact lens finishing kit
Polishers, edgers and other lens finish bits, The Plastic Contact Lens Company, Chicago
Fenestrated scleral contact lenses
A small drilled hole allowed fluids and oxygen to pass through the thick contact lens, reducing corneal edema.
Wichterle contact lens device
Prototype for the original soft contact lens spincasting device invented by Otto Wichterle in the 1960s. Using his childs erector set, the scientist and engineer came up with a method of manufacturing hydrogel lenses of high quality and low cost that revolutionized the contact lens field.