The history and benefits of soft contact lenses

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Before the 1960s, there were only rigid contact lenses on the market. Those lenses did not allow any oxygen to pass through the cornea, resulting in various side effects. In the 1960s, rigid gas permeable contact lenses were developed. A great improvement is that these lenses were oxygen permeable. This improvement did not mark an end because these gas permeable lenses were not comfortable enough during use, even though there was more oxygen in the eye. Later in the early 1970s, soft contact lenses were invented and overcome this shortcoming.

The invention of soft contact lenses

Soft contact lensesIn the late 1950s, the Czech chemists Otto Wichterle and Drahoslav Lim first published an idea of developing soft contact lenses. In 1971, SofLens material from Bausch & Lomb was approved and these soft lenses were quite attractive. Actually these soft lenses turned out to be a huge success because they provided unprecedented comfort and convenience. Since these lenses contain much more water than rigid gas permeable lenses, they could more easily relieve eye discomfort after lens insertion.

Further development and prevalence

After that, soft contact lenses continued to improve its oxygen permeability. At the end of the 1990s, the first ever silicone hydrogel lenses were introduced. These lenses were a combination of comfortable hydrogel and oxygen permeable silicone. As a result, the popularity of contact lenses was further pushed to a higher level. Currently, about 95% of contacts wearers in Scandinavia choose soft lenses and the figure in Japan, Netherland and Germany is close to 80%. These statistics suggest a conclusion that soft contact lenses have dominated the markets in many countries.

Soft contact lenses have a larger coverage and more water content

The edges of soft contact lenses rest on the sclera, providing a larger coverage of the eye than rigid gas permeable contact lenses. In addition, these soft lenses can fit the eyes naturally because they feature flexibility. Soft contact lenses contain 30% to 80% water, which can significantly shorten the adjustment period for people switching from eyeglasses to contact lenses. The period of discomfort can thus be shortened. RGP contact lenses always require weeks of adaption, while those soft contact lenses only take a few days.

Soft contacts lower the risk of developing eye irritation

In some cases, soft lenses are described as a piece of thick cling film. Thanks to this feature, soft lenses can significantly lower the risk of developing eye irritation, because they can prevent foreign particles from getting stuck between the lens and the cornea. This advantage of soft lenses is really significant, because eye irritation is one of the most concerning conditions in the mind of contacts users or those who are interested.

Soft lenses require frequent replacement and daily care

However, soft contact lenses are not flawless. Wearers have to replace soft contact lenses more frequently than RGP lenses and thus more money is needed. In addition, soft lenses always need daily cleaning and disinfection thoroughly. These cleaning products and accessories require additional cost for sure. But most wealthy people are willing to exchange the extra cost for exceptional comfort and convenience from soft lenses.