True Story of Poly(2-Hydroxyethyl Methacrylate)-Based Contact Lenses: How Did It Really Happen

Miroslava Duskova-Smrckova, Jiří Podešva, Jiří Michálek
2022 Substantia  
Soft hydrogel contact lenses represent the most famous and commercially successful application of poly(2‑hydroxyethyl methacrylate). The scarcely crosslinked network of this hydrophilic polymer finds its use also in many other fields, be it in (bio)medicine or technology. Moreover, the polymer itself and its crosslinked forms, discovered more or less serendipitously in the early fifties by a group of Czech chemists, is extremely interesting due to its exceptional properties: it readily swells
more » ... water, is optically clear, soft, biologically compatible, sufficiently strong, stable, gas-permeable, cheap, and easy to produce. Looking for its as-yet undiscovered qualities and possible utilization still continues. The story of the invention of hydrogel contact lenses was referred to many times in various literary sources which, however, contain numerous errors and misinterpretations. In the present article, we put these records straight and present the correct chronology of the hydrogel contact lenses development including the dramatic patent litigation. A brief overview of the chemical nature, properties, and applications of the constitutive substance of the lenses, i.e., the hydrophilic methacrylate, is also given.
doi:10.36253/substantia-1591 fatcat:bjr4lcbuxzbp7fyrpamyya2jgq