Contact lenses have basically remained unchanged for the last 50 years. Sure, there have been some improvements, but the idea remains the same: a plastic lens fits over your cornea to correct your sight. Contact lenses aren’t going to be that simple for much longer, though, and soon you could have some lenses that are internet enabled among other tricks. There are a lot of exciting things happening in the world of contact lenses and our Langley team loves to read about all of them. Before we take a look at where we’re going, though, let’s take a look at where contact lenses began.

A Brief History of Contact Lenses


Yes, the idea for contact lenses came from clear back in the 16th Century. From a very famous inventor, no less: Leonardo DaVinci. DaVinci sketched out some ideas for the concept of contact lenses. It would take a few hundred years for anyone to give it a try, though.


A Swiss doctor made the first contact lens out of glass, perhaps inspired by DaVinci’s sketches. It wasn’t the small lens that we know and love today, though; this one fit over the entire eye and was extremely uncomfortable.


It took doctors more than 50 years to make the change from glass to plastic, which is probably why contact lenses didn’t catch on sooner. This was the year the lenses were finally made from more comfortable plastic materials.


Just ten years later, eye doctors scaled down the size of contact lenses and developed a set that only covered the cornea instead of the entire eye. This made them dramatically more comfortable to wear.


Soft contact lenses are developed, making contact lenses cheaper to make and more comfortable to wear than ever before. This really marks the beginning of the rise of popularity for contact lenses.


This was really the year that saw the invention of the contact lenses that we know and love. While during the 1970’s gas permeable and soft contact lenses were developed, 1987 was the year that disposable soft lenses were introduced. These are far and away the most common type of contact lens worn today.

So What About Today?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 30 million people in the United States who wear contact lenses. In today’s market, 80% of contact lens wearers use soft lenses, much like the ones that were introduced in 1971. There have been some improvements in the comfort and durability of contact lenses over the years, making them continue to rise in their popularity.

We’ll examine what contact lenses are going to be like in the future in our next blog! By looking at some of the cutting-edge ideas and patents making the contact lens news, we can get a pretty clear picture about what contact lenses could be like in the next 5, 10 or even 20 years from now. In the meantime, if you are in need of new contact lenses, contact our office to make an appointment with our eye clinic in Langley.