Pair of cased scleral (haptic) contact lenses

Catalogue Number: 1553
Pair of cased scleral (haptic) contact lenses
Category: Spectacles and lenses
Sub-Category: Contact lenses and accessories
Year Of Publication/Manufacture: mid 1930s
Time Period: 1900 to 1939
Place Of Publication/Manufacture: Jena, Germany
Publisher/Manufacturer: Carl Zeiss Jena
Description Of Item: Pair of glass scleral contact lenses in D-shaped plastic hinged cases. Case for right lens includes rubber suction lens handler. Right case imprinted: 25/8 R -2. Left Case imprinted: 25/8 L -3. Case cover impressed: Carl Zeiss Jena/ Made in Germany. Case: 4.9cm x 4.0cm. Lenses: 20.0mm diameter
Historical Significance: The investigations of Leonardo Da Vinci (1508), Rene Descartes (1638) and Thomas Young (1801) into the optical power of the cornea and accommodation laid the foundations for contact lenses but none envisaged the concept for optical correction of the eye. John Herschel, in the Encyclopedia Metropolitana, (1845) in a footnote posed two ideas for visual correction: the first "a spherical capsule of glass filled with animal jelly", and "a mould of the cornea" which could be impressed on "some sort of transparent medium". Herschel never tested these ideas, but they were later advanced by several inventors including Hungarian Dr. Dallos (1929), who perfected a method of making moulds from living eyes. Before that, in the mid 1880s, Muller, Fick and Girard fabricated glass scleral (haptic) contact lenses made from blown glass. Fick filled the empty space between the cornea and the glass lens with a dextrose solution. He published his work, "Contactbrille", in Archiv fur Augenheilkunde in March 1888. These early blown glass lenses were used for the correction of keratoconus and other severe medical eye conditions rather than routine correction of refractive errors. In 1912 Zeiss produced a trial fitting set of glass scleral lenses. Glass-blown scleral lenses remained the only form of contact lens until the 1930s when polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA or Perspex/Plexiglas) was developed, allowing plastic scleral lenses to be manufactured for the first time. In 1936, US optometrist William Feinbloom introduced plastic lenses. Glass scleral contact lenses were fitted by Melbourne optometrist, Ernst Goetz, in the 1930s. He was probably the first person to fit contact lenses in Australia. He was trained as an optiker (optician) in Jena and worked for a time with Carl Zeiss. (see Goetz' profile under the tab 'People who made history' and also photos and documents relating to him in the Kett Museum). See also Cat Nos 1553 and 1741 for other examples of the same kind of lenses.
How Acquired: On loan from Optometrists Association of Australia via Joe Chakman
Date Acquired: 02.08.2010
Condition: Excellent
Location: Archive room. West wall. Unit 6 Drawer 2

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