Hayden Optometric Inc.
94 N Main St Mansfield MA 02048 +1 508-339-3952
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(508) 406-9342

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Mansfield, MA


Contact Lenses: More Than Meets The Eye

Contact lenses probably seem like a pretty recent invention, right?

It’s true that they’ve only become popular in recent decades, but you might be surprised to learn that Leonardo da Vinci first sketched the concept of contact lenses way back in 1508! His version involved submerging one’s head in a glass bowl of water, so it definitely needed work, but how did we get from there to the breathable silicone hydrogel contact lenses of today?

Contact Spectacles: Contacts Made Of Glass

In 1827, over three centuries after da Vinci’s initial sketch, Sir John Herschel came up with the idea of making a mold of a person’s cornea (the outer portion of the eye) in order to correct vision. However, the technology for making glass lenses thin enough to fit in the eye wouldn’t come along until 1888, when Adolf Fick was finally able to construct the first contact lens.

So why aren’t there fewer pairs of spectacles in old black-and-white photos if contacts were invented in the 1880s? Well, these prototype contact lenses weren’t exactly comfortable. They covered the entire front of the eye and allowed no oxygen to reach the cornea, so it only took a few hours before they became too painful to wear.

Hard Lenses: The Plastic Revolution

Contact lenses might never have become practical enough to appeal to glasses-wearers if it hadn’t been for the invention of plastic, which allowed lenses to be made lighter and more durable. Another key component was being able to successfully make molds of patients’ eyes, as Herschel had theorized. Dr. Dallos and Istvan Komàromy of Hungary perfected a method of doing just that.

However, these lenses still covered the entire eye. It wasn’t until 1948, when an English optical technician discovered that the lenses still worked if they covered a much smaller surface area, that contacts began to resemble the corneal lenses we’re used to today. A few more improvements quickly followed, making hard lenses very thin, shaped to the eye, and more comfortable.

Soft Lenses: Sight For Sore Eyes

Over the next couple of decades, hydrogels (more flexible plastics) were developed. By 1971, the first soft contact lenses gained FDA approval and hit the market. Hard lenses couldn’t beat soft lenses for comfort. Infection is always a risk with lenses that touch the eye, but the introduction of disposable lenses reduced this risk as well.

Soft lens technology has improved in the nearly fifty years since 1971, always seeking to improve breathability, safety, and comfort levels. The biggest recent breakthrough was silicone hydrogels, which are almost 100 percent breathable.

Watch this video to see how contact lenses are made:

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Let’s Find Your Perfect Contacts!

With the variety of contact lens options available today, it might seem difficult to choose the right ones for you, but that’s where we come in. We can match you with the perfect lenses for your circumstances and needs, so if we haven’t seen you in a while, schedule an appointment right away!

Don’t wait! We can help you find ideal contact lenses today!

Top image by Flickr user n4i used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Visit Us in Mansfield, MA

Discover everything our practice has to offer in person at our Main Street location.


94 N Main St
Mansfield, MA 02048

Contact Information

Phone: 508-339-3952
Fax: +1 (508) 339-6907
  • Monday: 9:00am - 5:00pm
  • Tuesday: 9:00am - 6:30pm
  • Wednesday: 9:00am - 4:00pm
  • Thursday: 9:00am - 6:30pm
  • Friday: 9:00am - 3:00pm
  • Saturday: 8:30am - 11:30am
  • Sunday: Closed
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Why Choose Hayden Optometric?

Our Brands

Our Brands

Your eyes are unique, and so is your sense of style, which is why selecting your frames and lenses is a very personal choice. Your frames should fit your sense of style, and your lenses should suit your vision needs. Hayden Optometric Inc. is proud to offer a wide variety of brands so that we can help you find the frames and lenses that best suit your needs and style.

We're Revolutionizing Eye Care

We're Revolutionizing Eye Care

Hayden Optometric wants to be a thought leader in the eye health industry. We are always dedicated to making life better for our patients. In fact, our own Dr. Joel Hayden has leveraged his knowledge as an optometrist and nutritionist to develop his own line of eye wipes and fish oil to bolster your eye health.



Dr. Hayden is also the founder of HALT Myopia; the Hayden Advanced Lens Therapy System. Designed for nearsighted kids, HALT Myopia has been called “LASIK for kids,” only without lasers, scalpels, pain, recovery, or risk of overcorrection.

Read more about HALT and other methods of myopia control.

The Future of Eye Health Technology

The Future of Eye Health Technology

We really value innovation. That’s why we rely on some of the most advanced technology available to help us examine, diagnose, and treat all of our patients. When you choose Hayden Optometric, you know you’re getting some of the most state-of-the-art equipment the industry has to offer.

Hayden Optometric is powered by WellFed Nutrition.

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