Thankfulness, Then and Now
BY JOSEPH T. BARR, OD, MS, FAAO, EDITOR
It's November, and in the United States, it's time for the Thanksgiving holiday. I have traditionally written thanks in my November editorial. First of all, in this difficult time in our world, I'm thankful for my faith, my family, my work, my country, my institutions, my colleagues and my mentors.
I am so very thankful for the work of our forefathers in contact lenses: Fick, Kalt, Muller, Tuohy and Wichterle, to name a few. I am thankful for the early entrepreneurs in this field such as Salvitori, Korb, Goldberg, Creighton, Gordon and Downs, to name only a few. I am thankful for the researchers, such as Mandell, Holden and Hill, to name a few.
In the past three decades, we must thank the major manufacturers. Thanks for the development of new high Dk silicone hydrogel and super high Dk RGP lenses for long-term wear to solve many of our past problems with extended and continuous wear. Thanks to the small, medium and large RGP manufacturers and labs for providing better lenses and materials, as well as the designs we need to fit our most challenging patients.
When I started in this field, we had PMMA contact lenses and so few spherical soft contact lenses that you could remember all the brand names (two) and all the diameters and base curves of all the lenses. Then we had CAB material, crude by today's excellent RGP material standards.
Early toric soft contact lenses were never reproducible, and now we have disposable toric soft contact lenses that, when prescribed properly, provide reliability approaching a spherical lens. Bifocal lens designs haven't changed much in decades, but manufacturing precision and mass production has made them a rapidly-growing segment of our practices and businesses. Early soft contact lens solutions were either self mixed or highly toxic and inducing hypersensitivity. When we have a problem caused by a contact lens solution, we are surprised. Lenses that cost the practitioner nearly $40 years ago now cost less than a dollar.
Even though all of this may contribute to making a large profit on each patient more difficult, we have more patients wearing more contact lenses successfully than ever. For this we can be thankful.