Contact Lens Pioneers

Review of Optometry presents an important series of articles on the people who have made groundbreaking contributions to the contact lens field. This series represents a rare chance for us to truly make a difference. By educating ourselves about the giants on whose shoulders we stand, we make it possible to keep reaching for new heights. By understanding the scientific, social and technical challenges early contact lens pioneers faced, we can motivate and inspire ongoing technological development. And, by exploring the growth of contact lens specialty practices, we can see more clearly the foundation upon which every successful practice is built.

As the Chair of the American Optometric Association’s Cornea & Contact Lens Section, I was thrilled when the editors of Review brought this project to me. I am proud to have an opportunity to play a role in documenting our collective history as optometrists and contact lens specialists. Contact lenses, the largest subspecialty in optometry, have shaped our profession. In recent years, optometry’s role in therapeutic care, surgical comanagement and other specialty areas has expanded in exciting ways; but contact lenses remain at the core of the optometric practice.

The series begins with a look at the early pioneers who brought us the first practical contact lenses. Next, we’ll examine developers of the modern contact lens, contact lens solutions, and our evolving understanding of the requirements of the cornea for successful lens wear. Finally we’ll look at the people who built the first specialty contact lens practices. We’ll cover not only the history but—equally important—what is happening today and tomorrow in optometry.

This is primarily a story about optometry. Although many others—ophthalmologists, opticians, Ph.D. scientists, and more—have made great contributions to the field, it is beyond the scope of this project to cover them all.

I hope you enjoy and learn from this salute to our profession. Viva la Contact Lens!

Jack Schaeffer, O.D.