Bausch + Lomb celebrates 50th anniversary of soft contact lens

Take look back at the soft lens’s journey

Bausch + Lomb (B+L) is commemorating the 50th anniversary of mass-produced soft contact lenses in the United States by taking a glance back at the product’s journey.

Contact lens’s history

The first concept of a contact lens appeared in a Leonardo da Vinci drawing in 1508.1 Nearly 400 years later, the first contact lens was born. It was glass and covered the entire surface of the eye.1

A more comfortable plastic lens arose in 1939, but it still covered the entire eye surface. Contact lenses didn’t shrink in size until 1948,when they were reduced to cover only the cornea.1 Finally, soft contact lenses as we know them came on the scene in 1971 when the FDA approved Soflens, the first mass-produced soft contact lens in the United States.

“That began what is now a more than $15 billion industry,” says George Grobe, B+L vice president for research and development, in a statement. “It was a very exciting development for patients as well as practitioners because it increased the access and availability of vision correction.”

Additional U.S. contact lens milestones include2:

• 1979: Rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses introduced

• 1981: Soft extended wear lenses introduced

• 1982: Soft bifocal lenses launched

• 1987: Disposable lenses launched

• 1994: Disposable toric lenses launched

• 1996: Daily disposables launched

• 1999: SiHy lenses introduced

• 2002: Overnight orthokeratology FDA approved; daily disposable toric launched

• 2004: SiHy toric lenses introduced

• 2006: SiHy multifocal lenses launched

• 2011: Water-gradient daily disposables introduced

• 2019: Monthly SiHy multifocal toric lens launched; Soft myopia control lens FDA approved

CL innovation

Since their beginnings, soft contact lenses have undergone formula innovations to meet modern demands, the most recent of which is the additional stress from staring at digital screens, says Grobe.

Approximately half of the 45 million contact lens wearers in the United States experience symptoms of contact lens dryness.3-5 Several products on the market combat dry eye, including artificial tears, punctal plugs, and intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy.

B+L recently introduced a new contact lens called Infuse to combat dry eye resulting from increased digital screen time. The silicone hydrogel,daily disposable holds 96% of its moisture over 16 hours of wear and features a next-generation SiHy daily disposable lens material (kalifilcon A) and ProBalance Technology that work together to help maintain ocular surface homeostasis, according to the company.6


1. A brief history of contact lenses. GP Contact lenses. August, 2015. Accessed May 4, 2021.

2. Heiting G. When were contact lenses invented? All About Vision. Updated March 2021. Accessed May 17, 2021.

3. Ramamoorthy P, Sinnott LT, Nichols JJ. Treatment, material, care, and patient-related factors in contact lens-related dry eye. Optom Vis Sci. 2008;85(8):764-772. doi:10.1097/OPX.0b013e318181a91f

4. Contact Lens Care. American Optometric Association. Accessed May 4, 2021.

5. Contact Lens Fast Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed May 4, 2021.,is%2031%20years%20old%202

6. Bausch + Lomb Launches Innovative Bausch + Lomb Infuse Silicone Hydrogel (SiHy) Daily Disposable Contact Lenses. Bausch Health. August 17, 2020. Accessed April 26, 2021.