Museum of Vision

Dedicated to preserving ophthalmic history

Skip to Central Page Content

Skip to the Sectional Navigation

Skip to the Site Navigation

Site Viewing Options (CSS support required)

Type Size:

  1. Small
  2. Medium
  3. Large

Color Scheme:

  1. Light-on-Dark
  2. Dark-on-Light


  1. Multi-Column
  2. Single-Column

Quick Links

  1. Calendar
  2. Contact
  3. Donate
  4. FAQ

Site Navigation

You are here:

Sectional Navigation

  1. Selections from the Sherman Collection
  2. History of Ophthalmology in the Asia Pacific
  3. Their Eyes to the Sky
  4. Great Insights and Great Thinkers in Ophthalmology
  5. Beyond Ophthalmology, Beyond the Clinic
  6. Extreme Vision: Science Fiction or Truth
  7. Contagion! Epidemics in Ophthalmic History
  8. The Eyes of War
  9. Spectacular Spectacles
  10. To Fool the Eye
  11. Windows to the Soul
  12. Picturing The Eye: Ophthalmic Film and Photography
  13. Collecting Ophthalmology: 30 Years at the Museum
Contact lens

Contact Lenses

Contact lenses have changed quite a lot since their introduction in the 1930s. 

See early examples of contact lenses

Contact Lenses

Contact lenses
Scleral contact lenses, c1950


Hard Contact Lenses

In 1936, an optometrist named William Feinbloom, devised the first plastic, hard contact lenses. By the end of the decade, the technology had advanced so far that Hollywood actors could be fitted with contacts to change the color of their eyes for movies.

Despite the early success of contact lenses, there were many problems producing a contact lens that fit well and was comfortable.  The popularity of hard contact lenses grew slowly, but they were helped by public figures like President Lyndon B. Johnson who was known to wear them.

Soft Contact Lenses

Starting in the 1960s Czech chemists and ophthalmologists made a break through. By using water absorbing plastic they were able to develop a soft contact lens which was more comfortable to wear than its predecessors.  The use of soft contact lenses exploded after they were introduced into the U.S. market in 1971.

User Submitted Comments

Submit Comment

American Academy of Ophthalmology