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Google Doodle on Wednesday paid tribute to Czech chemist Otto Wichterle who invented Soft contact lenses on his 108th birth anniversary. The Google Doodle shows Otto Wichterle holding a soft contact lense upon his fingertips while the light is reflected to form the Google logo in the background, as representative of eyesight.

Wichterle was born on October 27, 1913, in the Czech Republic (then, Austria-Hungary). Wichterle earned his doctorate in organic chemistry in 1936 from the Prague Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT). He taught as a professor at his alma mater during the 1950s while developing an absorbent and transparent gel for eye implants.

In 1961, the Czech chemist succeeded in producing the first four hydrogels contact lenses on a homemade apparatus built using a children's building kit, a bicycle dynamo belonging to one of his sons, and a bell transformer. On Christmas afternoon, with the help of his wife Linda, using the machine on his kitchen table, Wichterle finally succeeded. He tried the lenses in his own eyes and although they were the wrong power they were comfortable. Thus, he invented a new way of manufacturing the lenses using a centrifugal casting procedure. A few days later, he completed his patent application and produced over 100 lenses by spin casting.

As the inventor of countless patents and a lifelong researcher, Wichterle was elected the first President of the Academy of the Czech Republic following the country’s establishment in 1993. Wichterle passed away on August 18 in 1998. “Happy birthday, Otto Wichterle—thanks for helping the world see eye to eye!", Google wrote in a blog post.

As per the US FDA, there are two general categories of contact lenses – soft and rigid gas permeable (RGP).

The average age of contact lens wearers across the world is 31.

 

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