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Dispensing Opticians


The Chinese are thought to have invented glasses as a means of improving vision as early as 500 B.C. Glasses were used in Europe for reading during the 1500s, when printed matter first became widely available. The craft of grinding lenses to correct visual problems continued to spread throughout Europe over the next several hundred years.

Benjamin Franklin further developed eyeglasses by inventing the bifocal lens in the 18th century. Bifocals have a two-part lens: One part is used to aid reading, and the other is used to aid distance vision. By the late 19th century, a Swiss physician, A. E. Frick, had created the first contact lenses, which were made of heavy glass and were rather uncomfortable to wear. By using lighter, more flexible material, later developers were able to create contact lenses that today only cover the cornea (a portion of the eyeball).

With more than 60 percent of the people in the United States now wearing prescription glasses or contact lenses, dispensing opticians and others involved with eye care continue to develop ways of making corrective lenses more comfortable, attractive, and easier to wear.

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