eyes are windows on the world. Through the ages, and by various means,
people have tried to preserve, correct, or improve their vision. The first
eyeglasses, which date to the late 13th century, were two magnifying glass
handles riveted together at the end and hung over the nose. Since then,
many changes and innovations have been made in the lenses, frames, materials,
styles, and uses of eyeglasses and other vision aids.
During World War II, the special German glass used to make artificial eyes was in short supply. Working independently, three U.S. Army dentists-Milton S. Wirtz, Stanley F. Erp, and Victor H. Dietz-found a solution in molded plastic. On orders from the Office of the Surgeon General, the three men started the artificial-eye laboratory at Valley Forge General Hospital in Pennsylvania, and shared a patent for their work. Thousands of servicemen were fitted with plastic eyes.
Although contact lenses existed at the end of the
19th century, their widespread use and popularity developed after World
War II. The earlier hard plastic scleral lenses were large and required
both a small suction cup for application and fluid under the lens, which
reduced vision and increased clouding. Corneal lenses, developed in the
late 1940s and 1950s, were much smaller. They fit directly on the cornea
and needed no fluids under the lens, so they felt better and could be
worn for a longer time.
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