The History of Colored Contacts - From Medical Device To Fashion Accessory
Today colored contact lenses are one of the most popular fashion accessories for women and men. Contacts being worn just to change the color of the eyes and not to correct vision hasn't been in practice for very long at all, considering the extensive history of the contact lens. The history of contact lenses goes back farther than I would have guessed, and is actually pretty interesting! Of course at the beginning contact lenses were invented and intended as vision correcting devices not as colored cosmetic accessories. Once lenses were able to be produced fairly easily it didn't take long for theses little devices to become a huge hit as a must-have cosmetic accessory!
Though the idea of contact lenses has been around since 1508, colored contacts meant specifically for cosmetic purposes weren't available to the public until 1987. Since the very first idea, submerging the eye into a bowl full of water, the science, design and uses of contact lenses have come a long way.
Leonardo da Vinci first sketched the idea of the contact lens in order to learn more about how the eye changes it's focus when looking at objects at various distances. It wasn't until 1636 that René Descartes suggested a contact lens for vision correction. Unfortunately Descartes's design was totally unwearable; a glass tube filled with water, that while it would help correct vision, would make it impossible to blink.
The first wearable contact lenses were invented in 1887 by German glassblower, F. E. Muller. "Wearable" is sort of a relative term here as these lenses were made of glass, very bulky, and no where near as comfortable as contacts are today! The next big break in the history of colored contacts came in 1959 when Otto Wichterle and Drahoslav Lim, Czech chemists, made soft "hydrophilic gels for biological use". It wasn't until 1971 that the FDA approved the softlens material.
Finally in 1983 tinted lenses were introduced for commercial distribution. Since then there has been many breakthroughs in the manufacturing of, and the materials used to make contact lenses. Contact lenses are now more comfortable, more cost effective and come in a larger variety of colors then ever before!
We hope you enjoyed this little lesson on the history of colored contacts! Let us know in the comments section below what else you would like to know more about!