Otto Wichterle

Otto Wichterle who invented the soft contact lens was honoured by Google

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On his 108th birthday, Google pays honour to Czech chemist Otto Wichterle, who produced Soft contact lenses. The Google Doodle portrays Otto Wichterle holding a soft contact lens on his fingertips, with the Google logo in the backdrop.

Wichterle was born in 1913 in Prague (then Austria-Hungary). A degree in organic chemistry from the Prague Institute of Chemical Technology, Wichterle (ICT). During the 1950s, he developed an absorbent, translucent gel for ocular implants while teaching at his alma university.

In 1961, the Czech chemist created the first four hydrogel contact lenses using a children’s building kit, a bicycle dynamo, and a bell transformer. Wichterle ultimately succeeded on Christmas afternoon, with Linda’s help and the machine on his kitchen table. The lenses were comfy even if they were the wrong power. So he created a new method of lens manufacture called centrifugal casting. A few days later, he filed his patent and spun cast over 100 lenses.

Wichterle, a lifetime researcher and inventor, was elected the first President of the Czech Academy in 1993. Wichterle died August 18, 1998. “Happy birthday, Otto Wichterle—thanks for helping the world see eye to eye!”, Google wrote in a blog post.

The US FDA classifies contact lenses into two types: soft and rigid gas permeable (RGP).

Globally, contact lens wearers average age are 31 years old.