On Wednesday, October 27th, Google doodle celebrates the 108th birth anniversary of Otto Wichterle, the Czech chemist, who invented the widely used contact lens. And to honor him on his birthday Google doodle features a sketch of Otto Wichterle. In the doodle, Wichterle can be seen holding up a contact lens on his index finger. The Google Doodle also shows a ray passing through a contact lens and an eyeball.
Otto Wichterle, the chemist, was born on 27 October 1913 in Prostĕjov, which is the Czech Republic (then, Austria-Hungary). He indeed had a huge interest and loved science. Being a son of a farm-machine factory and small car plant owner, he managed to graduate and also earned his doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague in 1936. The institute was then known as Czech Technical University. Wichterle also showed some of his other interests in medicine.
During the 1950s, Otto Wichterle used to teach at the same University he graduated from. While teaching there, he developed a transparent and absorbent gel for the use of eye implants. But unfortunately, due to some political turmoil going on then, he was pushed out of the Institute of Chemical and Technology. But even though he faced all this, he never gave up and still continued his work and concentrated on the process of refining his hydrogel development even at home.
According to the blog of Google Doodle which gave small information about the invention of contact lenses, it mentioned, “In 1961, Wichterle (a glasses wearer himself) produced the first soft contact lenses with a DIY apparatus made of a child’s erector set, a bicycle light battery, a phonograph motor, and homemade glass tubing and molds.” Just with the help of 3-4 DIY apparatus, Wichterle managed to make one of the best inventions, which is now accepted worldwide either for fashion or for the necessity of people.
As a researcher, Wichterle also worked on several other patents his whole life. He was also elected as the first President of the Academy of the Czech Republic, which followed the country’s establishment in 1993, the blog added.
Well, other than contact lenses, he has also founded some state-of-the-art medical technologies such as “smart” biomaterials, useful for the restoration of human connective tissues, and bio-recognizable polymers.
Within a few days, after he created the first version of the contact lens, he completed his patent application and was able to produce over 100 lenses by spin casting.
He died at Moravia in the Czech Republic (then Austria-Hungary) in 1998, at the age of 85.
According to some reports of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 45 million people in the US wear contact lenses, and two-thirds of the users in the country are women. While the average age of contact lens wearers across the world is 31.
Today, there are a variety of contact lenses available in the market, for example, soft contact lenses, rigid glass permeable contact lenses, extended wear contact lenses, and disposable contact lenses. The lenses are also produced in different eye colors.