Contact Lens Pioneer, Adolf Mueller-Welt    

Contact Lens










Because German Officers were not allowed to wear glasses while in uniform, interest in our contact lenses soared among officers and officer candidates. The market actually increased substantially. Over and over, we were able to sell hundreds of lenses in a very short time. It added up to many thousands of fittings. All of this was done in the face of a critical labor shortage. I had only two workers beside myself. Production became more and more difficult. We had to find help by hiring foreign workers.

At the end of the war, soldiers of the Allied Armies came to my fitting institute in very large numbers. These soldiers carried the Mueller-Welt name to their numerous homelands.

My longtime dream of introducing contact lenses to opticians finally was at hand. I had the knowledge, the place and the experience to encourage opticians into the world of modern eye care, especially the proper technique of fitting the lenses. Among these astute opticians great interest could be found. One of the very first opticians to come to my business in Stuttgart to learn was Mr. Bordt from Frankfurt. Then came Mr. Morisson from Holland and Mr. Hoffmannbeck from South America. Also, Mr. Soehnges came by and asked me to train him in the art of fitting lenses. He became a very good student. Before coming to me Mr. Soehnges had until the end of the war fitted only a few of the Zeiss lenses.

As my company grew in the area of making and fitting lenses I was able to gain the employment of Mr. Helmut Polte, formerly of Zeiss, as my production manager. In a short time, our joint knowledge made it possible to bring about substantial improvements in optical and other technical improvements in contact lens making. The quality became supreme. At this point it is important to mention new procedures that we installed in the years of 1945 and 1946. Among the most eminent were:

Lenses produced from glasplatinum

Grinding machines each with 24 spindles

Diamond cutting tools

Edge melt down and relaxation ovens

But then came the devaluation of money and all of the troubles that it caused. Glass became an expensive commodity and we had to substitute plastic in its place. It came upon us so suddenly that all of the technical expertise that we had developed had to be discarded into the junkpile. So, we started all over again with the original techniques that we had used for glass. We heated the plastic and pressed it with atmospheric pressure. There was a distinction inasmuch as we could use our experience gained in controlling the degree of tension in glass and apply it to plastic. It preserved the curvature of the lenses and minimized losses due to tension problems. The former procedure of blowing the optics into the lens had a minimal use. It was obtained by pressing the plastic between two separate forms, or dies, a male and a corresponding female die.

The former procedure of blowing the optical correction into the lens now had limited application. The procedure of pressing the plastic between two optically matched dies was an almost unbelievable manufacturing advance in the process of making contact lenses. Because the optic correction has to have an absolutely perfect central spot, the dies had to be impeccably ground and polished to achieve the desired result in pressing the plastic. Up to that time, the making of scleral lenses had followed the old procedure. In 1948 , working with these precise dies, we finally came to the conclusion that optically we were only working in the zone of the cornea. Now, at last, through knowledge gained from literature and personal experience we were led into the era of constructing corneal lenses.

The first trials and reactions were very positive. Surprisingly, it was those fitters who we had trained in fitting scleral lenses who resisted corneal lenses. It was not until other manufacturers began making corneal lenses that our fitting technicians became interested. Today, the process has once again changed. The use of lathes to manufacture contact lenses is the accepted method. The application and use of today's quality lenses makes it imperative for us to recruit and train the finest fitters of contact lenses.

Here is a summary of the kinds of contact lenses being made in this year of 1960:

1. Corneal lenses, with one radius on the inside and the diameter corresponding to the cornea.

2. Micro-Lenses, with one radius on the inside and the diameter and the diameter a millimeter or less than the diameter of the cornea.

3. AZ-Lenses, with an optical and a transition zone (therefore 2 radii).

4. A AZ-Lenses, with an optical and an asymmetric transitional zone (therefore 3 radii).

5. M AZ-Lenses, with one optical and two or more transition zones (therefore 3 or 4 radii). M standing for Multi.

6. V Lenses, with one or more ventilation holes. V standing for ventilation.

7. Z AZ Lenses, with several channels cut in the lens in order to attain a slight circulation of tearfluid.

8. Bi-Lenses, with bifocal optics to correct vision problems due to aging. They also have a very promising future in aiding in the condition of Keratoconus and other kinds of deformed corneas.

Considering all of the types of lenses mentioned, a fitter can have approximately one and a half dozen different types of lenses available so that he is able to have ample opportunity to represent his profession before his patients as one of highly respected quality." End of translation."

I still have a considerable quantity of the original wartime, fluidless, hand-blown scleral lenses and some of the dies that later were made to form contact lenses from plastic. I have hundreds of specimens of plastic lenses in the various forms of manufacture. The plastic lens as it emerged from the dies did not resemble anything that would eventually become a useful contact lens. It is visual testimony to the skill of my father and his workers who invented and perfected the various mechanical systems needed to bring those lenses to a state of refinement. These items should be in a museum.