• 1961

    1961 – Otto Wichterle conceives and begins the production of soft lenses by spinning HEMA in an open rotating mould. The early experimental Geltakt lenses are followed by the mass production Spofalens. (Illustration courtesy the Contact Lens Collection of the College of Optometrists).

  • 1969

    1969 – The Bionite Naturalens is introduced in the USA by Allen Isen, subsequently to be sold in the UK by Contactalens. This is the first company to consider hydrogen peroxide as a method for soft lens disinfection and also introduces the concept of sagittal height for lens fitting. (Illustration courtesy the Contact Lens Collection of the College of Optometrists).

  • 1971

    1971 – Bausch & Lomb obtain FDA approval for their HEMA spun cast lenses. The first lenses are the C Series of monocurve construction, followed soon after by the F and N Series.

  • 1972

    1972 – The Permalens is introduced together with the concept of extended wear by UK company, Global Vision. This is subsequently taken over by CooperVision, Pilkington Barnes-Hind and CibaVision.

  • 1973

    1973 – Hydron lathed HEMA lenses are introduced to the UK. (Illustration courtesy the Contact Lens Collection of the College of Optometrists).

  • 1973

    1973 – Sauflon lenses with a 70% water content are introduced by Contact Lenses Manufacturing. These are followed by Sauflon 85 for ‘permanent wear’ and Sauflex 55.

  • 1974

    1974 – Don Brucker gains FDA approval for a New Drug Application for Hydrocurve lenses, manufactured from Hefilcon A. From 1977 lenses are made from a different material, Bufilcon, which is used to produce ultrathin and toric lenses.

  • 1974

    1974 – Weicon toric lenses and dynamic stabilisation are introduced by Titmus Eurocon in Germany.

  • 1975

    1975 – Wohlk in Germany create the Hydroflex/m, the first corneal size ‘mini’ lens’ with usual diameters of 12.50 and 13.00 mm. The red numbers represent codes engraved on the lens periphery for identification purposes.

  • 1975

    1975 – Bausch & Lomb introduce the 03 and 04 Series of hyperthin lenses with diameters of 13.50 mm and 14.50 mm respectively. With a centre thickness of 0.035 mm, these are used for both daily and extended wear.

  • 1977

    1977 – Barnes-Hind introduce the first progressive aspheric multifocal soft lens, the Hydrocurve bifocal.

  • 1977

    1977 – Silicone elastomers are introduced by Wohlk (Silflex) and Titimus-Eurocon (Tesicon).

  • 1979

    1979 – Hydron Z6 lenses are designed to be ultrathin centrally at 0.06 mm with a thicker periphery to assist handling.

  • 1979

    1979 – Duragel 75 is introduced from Scandinavia as a high water content “daily wear lens with extended wear capability.”

  • 1981

    1981 – CSI and CSI-thin are introduced as non-HEMA soft lenses from Syntex.

  • 1984

    1984 – Bausch & Lomb launch the PA1 concentric bifocal which works on the principle of simultaneous vision. This is later followed by a crescent bifocal which displaces on downwards gaze to give alternating vision.

  • 1985

    1985 – University Optical produce the Alges bifocal, manufactured with different sizes of centre near segments.

  • 1992

    1992 – Softperm – originally called Saturn – is introduced as a combination lens with a hard gas-permeable centre surrounded by a soft skirt. This is intended to give the vision of a hard lens with the improved comfort of a soft lens and is used for keratoconus and corneal grafts.

  • 1999

    1999 – Silicone hydrogels are introduced as Purevision by Bausch & Lomb and Night & Day by CibaVision.