Freedom from Your Frames with Contact Lenses

What do you want to achieve in 2018?  Perhaps you want to sculpt your waistline, start pottery, run a marathon, change careers, climb a mountain… or perhaps you’d like to achieve freedom from your frames?

Contact lenses could be your solution.

For some of our patients, contact lenses can seem an intimidating prospect – some have had bad experiences in the past, some squirm at the idea of touching their eyes, and others worry that their eyesight prescription may not be compatible.  But at Hodd Barnes and Dickins we’re determined to overturn your preconceptions.

During the past decade, contact lenses have become more comfortable, convenient and hygienic than ever before, incorporating the latest technology and materials to give you an unparalleled vision experience.  Our contact lenses trial appointments at our central London practice are designed to allay your concerns, and our highly qualified optometrists aim to give you the confidence and competence to use lenses bespoke to your prescription.

Whether you have short-sightedness, multi-focal, or astigmatic vision, there’s a contact lens for you – indeed, you might argue we’re in a ‘golden era.’  But the history of contact lenses spans back over half a millennia… so where did it all begin?

  • 16th Century: It’s believed that the earliest designs date back to 1508 when the great architect Leonardo da Vinci sketched out his vision for a sight-correcting solution using a bowl of water in direct contact with the eye…

  • 17th Century: French philosopher Descartes took da Vinci’s concept one step further, when he explored the idea of using a test tube of water to correct vision in an influential essay.

  • 19th Century: But it wasn’t until the 19th century that the history of contact lenses advanced to prototype phase, when scientist Thomas Young created a pair of lenses with Descartes’ concepts in mind, using wax to glue shortened water tubes to his eyes – ouch!  Then, in 1827 the English astronomer Sir John Herschel had his eureka moment and suggested making moulds of a person’s eyes to create corrective lenses that would conform to the surface of the cornea.

  • This notion became a reality 50 years later, when European engineers F. A. Muller and Adolf E. Fick separately manufactured the first contact lenses from glass.  Although effective, these lenses covered the entire surface of the eye, restricting oxygen supply.  Inconveniently this meant they could only be worn for a few hours at a time and the lenses failed to achieve mainstream usage.


  • 20th Century: The next breakthrough came when optometrist William Feinbloom created a lens with both glass and plastic elements, enhancing permeability and comfort.

  • But the contact lens revolution truly took off in 1948 when California-based optician Kevin Tuohy developed all-plastic ‘corneal’ contact lenses.  These small but hard lenses allowed oxygenated tears to pass under the lens and could be worn for 16 hours straight.

  • From this moment progress was rapid. A soft hydrophilic hydrogel material was developed by Czech chemists Otto Wichterle and Dragoslav Lim in 1959, leading to huge improvements in comfort and ease of use, and in the 1970s contact lens manufacturer Bausch & Lomb launched the first commercially available soft hydrogel lenses.  The 80s saw the launch of daily disposable lenses, and multifocal and toric varieties soon opened the market to a larger range of users.
  • 21st Century: In the early 2000s, silicon hydrogel lenses became widely available.  These pliable lenses let in five times more oxygen and absorbed more water, making them fresher and more comfortable to wear.  These advances have placed contact lenses very much in the mainstream, and manufacturers are constantly looking to make improvements to further enhance their already seamless vision experience.

  • What does the future hold? Contact lenses could well be at the centre of the ‘wearable technology’ revolution.  Technology goliaths Samsung, Google and Sony are all investing in smart contact lenses, filing patents for Minority Report-style lenses that flag up phone notifications, record images and measure your general health.  Could smart lenses herald in the next chapter in the history of contact lenses?

If you’re interested in trialling contact lenses with us, don’t hesitate to get in touch to book your trial appointment at our practice in High Holborn, London.