A Brief History of Contact Lenses

In 1508, Leonardo da Vinci introduced the concept of contact lenses to the world.  He created the “Codex of the eye, Manual D”.  In this manual he discusses changing the corneal abilities by putting people’s eyes into a bowl of water.

In 1801, Thomas Young developed contact lenses that did not correct refraction errors.  His contact lenses involved water-filled gel and were highly unrealistic. In 1823, Sir John Herschel was one of the first to actually create plans to create practical contact lens designs.

In 1887, F.E. Muller created the first contact lenses that were actually bearable to the human eye.  Adolf Gaston Eugen Fick was the first ophtalmologist to fit a pair of contact lenses on to living creatures.  He originally tried them on rabbits, eventually put them on himself, and finally had a group of volunteers test them.  Although the lens was tolerable, it couldn’t be worn for long periods of time.

In 1948, plastic contact lenses were created, and these only covered the eye’s cornea.  They could be worn for at most 16 hours.  The best transformation in the contact lens world occurred in 1960 when two Czech chemists Otto Wichterle and Drahoslav Lim created soft lenses.  Once soft contact lenses were brought into the world, the contact lens industry took off.  Since then, other contact lenses have been developed.  There are now contact lenses made out of several different materials and lengths of durability.

 

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How Contact Lenses Impacted the Ophthalmic Goods Market

Until the 1960s, the ophthalmic goods industry had remained fairly constant.  It grew at an anticipated rate, mostly because the population growth rate was predictable.  When the 1960’s arrived, the demand for ophthalmic goods increased as a result of a population increase and more awareness about eye examinations. 

Contact lenses were released to the public in the 1950’s, but they were not very popular at first.  Back then, contact lenses were extremely expensive, with a price of $200 on average.  Not only was this price high, especially for the 1950’s, but the contact lenses were also not very well developed.  Many consumers found the contact lenses to be incredibly uncomfortable and difficult to wear.  Almost half of people who gave contact lenses a try decided to discontinue wearing them and went back to glasses.  Even with these complaints, the contact lens industry continued to expand.  Because contact lenses were gaining attention, the ophthalmic goods market was becoming more competitive.

During the 1960’s, contact lenses were improved dramatically, and they become much more comfortable for people to wear.  In 1965, soft contact lenses were invented by two Czechoslovakian scientists.  This discovery completely changed people’s view of contact lenses from then on out.  In addition to the surge in discoveries, there was an increase in the number of people getting eye examinations and a population increase of nearly 20%.  For the next twenty years, the ophthalmic goods market experienced tremendous growth and it was seen as a very lucrative industry.  When disposable soft contact lenses were introduced to the world in 1988, contact lenses officially took over by becoming a 2.5 billion dollar market.  However, in 2000, things took an interesting turn.

With the economic recession in 2000, eyewear companies expected revenues to stay consistent since eyewear has typically been seen as a necessity.  What they discovered was that eyewear was actually seen as a fashion statement, so the eyewear industry suffered dramatically.  Instead, people turned to contact lenses, specifically the disposable and specialty lenses.  Since 2000, contact lenses have secured around 40% of the ophthalmic market.

An Analysis on the Marketing Campaign of Specsavers: The Role that Glasses Play in Popular Culture Today

Introduction

Thousands of bikini-clad women raced to a beach on a tropical island.  The women journeyed through leafy forests and rocky mountains, some even using designer bags as machetes to help them tackle any agriculture that was in their way.  Eventually, the hoards of women found what they were looking for on that beach: a man.  The hairy beer-bellied man endlessly sprayed an enchanting cologne onto his body.  While the women charged towards him, hypnotized by his scent, he pulled out of a pair of dinky red glasses.  When he wore the glasses, all of the women abruptly stopped running.  They glared at him in disbelief, turned their backs, and headed back to their original destination.  He was left confused, desperately spraying his cologne attempting to persuade them to come back.  But they won’t.  Those glasses were so hideous, that they repelled every single woman.  He “should’ve gone to Specsavers”.

This incidence was a commercial that aired throughout the United Kingdom on March 14th, 2010.  The advertisement is a parody of Lynx’s 2006 “Billions” ad, and has been very well received by viewers.  On YouTube alone, this commercial has over forty million views!  Many online websites have noted that this advertisement has been one of the best marketing strategies of the decade.

After the success of this advertisement, Specsavers has launched other similar commercials. The slogan, “Should’ve gone to Specsavers”, which appears in all of the television commercials, has become integrated into popular culture.  Thus, Specsavers has become extremely successfully because of its strong marketing tactics.

Background

In 1984, Doug and Mary Perkins founded the optical retail company that is now called Specsavers.  The Perkins focused on establishing a national company that was dependable and affordable for the average UK citizen.  These two aspects would make Specsavers very competitive with both local optometrists and other national companies, such as Boots and Vision Express.  Specsavers’ mission statement became: “Specsavers-the best value opticians satisfying eye care need at affordable prices clearly, simply, and consistently” (Annemim Kuusela).  This mission statement quickly transformed the way consumers in the United Kingdom viewed eyewear.

Specsavers was able to make spectacles more affordable for everyone in the UK.  By buying eyewear in bulk, Specsavers’ prices were on average thirty percent less expensive than competing brands (Specsavers history).  Thus, purchasing glasses became less of an expense and an investment for consumers.  The Perkins realized that with their prices, eyewear could become an everyday item, just like clothes, shoes, and jewelry.  Annemim Kuusela commented, “Long-term and maybe the most challenging objectives is to make eyeglasses more as an accessory that people can buy just for fun.  Not only because they have to.  With prices of Specsavers it is possible”.

The Print Advertisement

The Specsavers’ print advertisement can be found belowImage. The print advertisement focuses on the price of Specsavers’ glasses by highlighting the phrase, “2 for 1 Designer Glasses”.  It displays an attractive female wearing a pair of glasses, and the Specsavers logo appears at the lower right bottom.  This particular advertisement appears in Cosmopolitan magazine, which is one of the most popular female magazines in the world.

Current Strengths that Appear In the Marketing Campaign

First, the playful television advertisements have made Specsavers extremely memorable.  It also illustrates that buying glasses is a fun process, it is a way to develop different sense of styles based off the frames you decide upon.

A strength for the print advertisements is that it mentions the low price of Specsavers glasses.  The phrase, “2 for 1 Designer Glasses” blatantly illustrates that Specsavers has prices that are better than other competing brands.  Specsavers’ prices are important to publicize because money matters to the consumers.  A survey of three thousand adults in RoI illustrated that fifty-three percent of consumers “look for the lowest possible price when they go shopping” and that sixty-eight percent of consumers “look out for special offers”.  Specsavers’ discounted prices make it possible for people to afford more pairs of glasses.  The idea that glasses could be an everyday item has started to manifest itself into popular culture.  Just the other day, I noticed that one student in my class had worn over 4 pairs of classes throughout the quarter.  Each pair of glasses that he wore helped him make a certain fashion statement.

Conclusion

Overall, I thought that it was incredibly important to analyze the Specsavers’ marketing campaign because their campaign suggests the role that glasses play in modern culture.  Because their advertisements emphasize fun and affordability, we see that glasses have now become an everyday accessory, much like jewelry, and have become a way for people to make temporary fashion statements.

Contact Lenses in Popular Culture: Daria Season 3, Episode 1 “Through a Lens Darkly”

Daria is a cartoon television series that appeared on MTV.  It has been regarded as one of the classic MTV television shows, running successfully for over 6 straight seasons.  The show follows the life of Daria, a white high school student who is incredibly sarcastic, intelligent, and a nerd.  She has worn the same pair of thick black glasses for as long as she can remember.  One of the most highly rated Daria episodes is “Through a Lens Darkly”. 

At the beginning of this episode, Daria almost hits a dog when she is driving because her large black glasses get in the way of her peripheral vision.  Her mother decides that it is time for Daria to finally give contact lenses a try.  Daria at first conflicted, for she wonders how her perspective on herself and other people’s perspectives on her will change.  Will getting contacts mean that she in fact cares about her looks?  Is she now a hypocrite, someone who has always condoned those who are materialistic and self-absorbed?

In the end, Daria decides to give contact lenses a try after speaking with her aunt who suggests that using contact lenses does not imply that you are vain.  Instead, contact lenses are a helpful alternative to glasses that only alter your appearance slightly.

When Daria comes to school the next day with her new contacts, she is surprised by how many people react.  Some people tell her that she looks cool, others don’t even recognize her, and most are just excited that she is trying to be more approachable and “normal”.  Daria even gets hit on, something she was very unaccustomed to.  Eventually, the contacts start to irritate her eyes and so she takes them out.

The next day, Daria decides that the contacts irritated her eyes too much, but that she also doesn’t want to wear her glasses.  Instead, she decides to attend school blind.  As her best friend realizes that Daria is blind, since she’s bumping into things, Daria blurts out that she didn’t wear her glasses out of vanity.  Daria sprints to the bathroom, completely baffled by herself for becoming self-absorbed for the first time in her life.  Daria continues the rest of the episode being confused.  She likes that her thick black glasses are a distinctive part of her, but she also is human and occasionally wants to get the attention she had without them.

Overall, I think this episode brilliantly highlights the role of contacts and glasses in modern society today.   The fact that wearing contacts was seen as vain illustrates that often those that care about their physical appearance are embarrassed by glasses or think that glasses make people less appealing.  This episode also showcased how Daria’s glasses were an extension of herself.  People were so used to seeing Daria with her glasses that when she wore contact lenses instead, everyone seemed to notice.  For Daria, switching from glasses to contacts was just as if someone dyed their hair from blonde to black.  Her glasses became part of her, and when she stopped wearing them, she felt like a completely different person.  This episode brilliantly displays the power that contacts and glasses have on people’s confidence and relationship with others.

 

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Analysis of Contact Lenses Commercial #2

 

http://www.obligation.org/2011-07-04-channel-one-news-brings-back-acuvues-youre-a-loser-without-contacts-commercial

 

http://www.obligation.org/2005-02-21-channel-one-news-hard-sell-gets-ok-from-channel-one

 

Channel One once aired an Acuvue contact lens commercial that created hysteria among parents.  Although it quickly stopped airing the commercial, many viewers were upset that a television channel would even allow for such an advertisement.  The Acuvue commercial focuses on a girl who wants to be in the school play.  She claims that she would, “rather be blind” than be in the school play with glasses on.  She also comments that her best friend with contacts is gorgeous.  Obligation, a website that “promotes what helps children and changes what harms them” notes that Channel One and Acuvue are basically telling viewers that if you wear glasses, you are ugly, and if you wear contacts, you are beautiful. 

The commercial says a lot about the choice between contacts and glasses.  Because glasses, in the past, have the connotation of being nerdy or making people unattractive, contacts in modern culture are being portrayed as the “cool” thing to do.  Our social media has successfully brainwashed society into thinking that glasses are less appealing than contact lenses. 

Analysis of Contact Lens Video Commercial #1

This television commercial aired in February of 2010.  The commercial features a pair of twins, Kelly and Sabrina.  Sabrina has astigmatism, a refractive error of the eye, and Kelly does not.  The advertisement demonstrates how both twins are able to wear Acuvue lenses despite the astigmatism.

This advertisement tells viewers much more about contact lenses in current day society than their ability to correct for astigmatisms.  First, Acuvue is subtly attempting to illustrate that contacts are much more appealing than glasses.  When Sabrina finally gets to wear contact lenses, Kelly exclaims, “Your glasses gone?!”, with Sabrina replying, “Yeah, I do not have to wear them anymore”, and the two celebrate together by laughing and smiling.  The fact that the twins are so overjoyed that they do not have to wear glasses indicates that they see contact lenses as more appealing.  Sabrina also states, “New school, new me,” suggesting that contacts have helped change how she and others view herself.  It is no coincidence that Acuvue also chose two attractive blonde models as the ones to pitch these ideas.  Therefore, contacts are seen as a form of freedom, enabling users to become whoever they want to be.

The goals of the advertisement, to emphasize that contacts are superior to glasses and that contacts can help transform your physical appearance and confidence is a reflection of what young women are looking for in society today.  In 2010 at least, contacts were seen as an alternative to glasses that were “cooler” and liberating.

Contact Lens in the Fashion Industry: Ability to Change Eye Color

In 2012, the world was introduced to colored contact lenses.  These contact lenses could either have a prescription or they could not have a prescription.  Either way, contact lens makers finally found a way to allow individuals to temporarily change the appearance of their eye color.

 

The reasoning behind using colored contact lenses differs for different people.  Some people where contacts because they like to keep people on their toes.  Michaela Khalfayan (Stanford University, Class of 2014) comments, “I like keeping people guessing.  One day, my eyes will be blue and the next day they will be green.  It is funny to see people’s reactions and it’s interesting how many people notice”.  Other users like to change their eye color for certain occasions.  Whether they want to get more noticed at the club, or want to look pretty in pictures at the beach, users tend to use colored lenses to make themselves feel and look a particular way.  Khalfayan comments, “I also do think I look prettier with blue eyes.  It is more rare for people to have blue eyes.  My brown eyes are boring, and the blue eyes make me feel more attractive, bold, and exotic”.  Thus, it is evident that contact lenses have transformed from correcting people’s vision to making a fashion statement.

 

The following link goes to the Acuvue Colored Contact Lens page, and it illustrates how the different contact lenses will make certain eye shades appear:

http://www.acuvue.com/products-acuvue-2-colours

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Contacts as a Machine

During one of the first classes, Shanks discussed the door as a machine.  He talked about what would happen if we did not have a door, taking the door apart piece by piece.  First, he noted, that a classroom would be made entirely of walls.  But in order for people to be able to enter the classroom, there would need to be at least one hole along the walls.  Unfortunately, Stanford does experience bad weather occasionally, so in order to avoid rain entering the classroom and for noise to not travel directly into the classroom, we would need something to cover the hole.  To have people be able to walk into the classroom and to be able to cover the hole, there would need to be a hinge.  But the hinge would be useful without the hinge needle.  Thus, when you break down what a door is, it eventually comes down to the hinge needle. Without the needle, the rest of the door becomes pointless.  Let’s see if the same applies for contact lenses.

I want to look specifically look at Once-A-Day Acuvue contact lenses.  These lenses are contacts that are intended to last one typical day.  In other words, a person can wake up, put them on, and then remove them before they go to sleep.  I decided to look at contact lenses from the top down.  The lens itself is incredibly important, but if I only had the lens, it would get dried up quickly.  Thus, my contact lenses are nothing without the contact lens solution that keeps them moist.  However, if we just had solution and contact lenses, the contact lenses would only be moist for a short bit because we would pour solution on the lenses and the lenses would not be continually soft.  Therefore, we need something to hold the contact lens and the solution in.  The plastic container and cover that hold the solution, which then hold the lens, are thus some of the most important parts of the contact lenses. As a machine, all of these three components, the lens, solution, and container are all essential for the contact lens to work on the whole.  Some contact lenses have further additions that are unnecessary.  Decorative lenses, or lenses that change the appearance of the eye, are examples of contacts as “machines” that have unnecessary parts.  Overall, removing any of these three major pieces of the contact “machine” completely destroys all functionality.  Contact lenses can also been seen as part of a larger mega-machine.  All of the people that design the lenses, create the lenses, market the lenses, and sell the lenses are part of the ultra mega-machine. 

Sarah Roach’s Experience with Contact Lenses

I gently slipped the cool red frames off my sun-beat face.  My lips pursed together to form a subtle smile as I reach into a white plastic bag.  I squinted to read the fine print, “Acuvue -2.25” it read.  I slid my finger across the top, carefully grasping for the end of the plastic lid.  My hands trembled as I peeled it open, revealing a small pool of liquid.  My eyes met my optometrist while she encouraged me to give it a try.  The tip of my index finger plunged into the liquid as it went searching for the contact lens.  When it had finally found what it was looking for, I pressed the lens against the inside of the plastic and rolled the contact on to the tip of my index finger.  I sloppily used the rest of the fingers on both hands to keep my right eye from closing shut.  Staring into the vanity mirror, I cautiously inched my index finger closer to my eye, attempting to successfully mount my contact lens onto my pupil.  As the lens kissed my eye, I could feel a cold burning sensation tickling my cornea.  My eyelid blinked furiously, and I awkwardly watched my lens fall onto the floor.  My optometrist simply laughed and said, “I’ll go get another one”.  This was my first experience with contact lenses.  I got them in 7th grade, and my life changed dramatically from this point onwards.

I remember walking into my 7th grade classroom for the first time without my glasses, excited to show off my new contact lenses to my friends.  I immediately got tons of compliments, with some remarking, “Where’d your glasses go?” and “Wow, Sarah, you look great!”  My glasses made me feel incredibly dorky, lowering my self-esteem and making me feel much less desirable.  But now, with my new contacts, I was able to show people my real face.  I no longer hid behind my geeky red frames, but instead I glowed with satisfaction and pride.  My contacts helped me gain the confidence I needed to become the person I am today.

My insecurities with my appearance with my glasses have not gone away.  Even today, as a junior in college, wearing glasses brings me back to the years when I felt so self-conscious with my frames.  I feel incredibly embarrassed when I wear my glasses in public, often avoiding eye contact with people.  I have even gone to such extremes that I have basically gone blind, for I would rather not wear my glasses where I am going than have people see me in them.  Although I think my insecurity with my glasses is more of a reflection of myself than the item itself, I do not think my experience with glasses and contacts is abnormal.  Especially for young women in the United States, eyewear often has the negative connotation of being dorky and unappealing to potential sexual partners.

Something I have recently realized is how “hip” it actually is to wear glasses.  Now more than ever, there are people who wear glasses without prescriptions.  Thus, they wear these glasses simply for their physical appearance.  Glasses have recently become more affordable and a huge fashion statement, and I think this shift in how glasses are viewed in society has helped me realize that my view on eyewear has been completely wrong.  Glasses themselves have never been unfashionable or nerdy, it just so happens that the ones I pick out make me feel that way.  I need to choose glasses that make me feel just as confident as I am with contacts.

In the absence of contacts, I think I would have come to this realization much sooner.  If I had been forced to wear glasses for my entire life, perhaps I would have spent more time focusing on finding fashionable frames.  Maybe I wouldn’t have given up so easily on making glasses something that made me feel comfortable.  I might have been in my self-conscious rut for a short while, but eventually I would have to make it work.  I would have seen that I can attract boys and feel attractive when wearing glasses.  Therefore, if contacts had never entered my life, I think I would have had to embrace glasses much sooner.

Even after making this epiphany, I still do prefer my contacts to my glasses.  Contacts enable me to play soccer, bike in the rain, and retain my peripheral vision.  Contacts almost seem to solve all the problems that glasses create.  My contacts give me the freedom to not have to think about making a fashion statement or find frames that make me feel fabulous.  And, more importantly, my contacts gave me confidence when glasses couldn’t do the job.

Definition of Contact Lenses

A contact lens is a lens that is placed onto the cornea of the eye.  The lens is usually used to adjust eyesight, often used as an alternative to eyeglasses.  People choose to wear contacts for a variety of reasons, but they are usually worn for sports, weather, and to change physical appearance. In 2004, it was estimated that roughly 125 million people wear contact lens.

Contact lenses come in a variety of forms.  They are soft contact lenses, rigid gas permeable contact lenses, extended wear contact lenses, disposable contact lenses, orthokeratology contact lenses, and decorative (piano) contact lenses.  The differences between the lenses are the amount of time users are expected to wear them, the material they are made out of, durability, and whether they correct vision or not.  The most popular contact lens brands are created by CIBA Vision, CooperVision, Johnson & Johnson, and Bausch and Lomb. Image

 

 

The history of contacts, on the other hand, is surprising longer than most people think.

In 1508, Leonardo da Vinci introduced the concept of contact lenses to the world.  He created the “Codex of the eye, Manual D”.  In this manual he discusses changing the corneal abilities by putting people’s eyes into a bowl of water.

In 1801, Thomas Young developed contact lenses that did not correct refraction errors.  His contact lenses involved water-filled gel and were highly unrealistic. In 1823, Sir John Herschel was one of the first to actually create plans to create practical contact lens designs.

In 1887, F.E. Muller created the first contact lenses that were actually bearable to the human eye.  Adolf Gaston Eugen Fick was the first ophtalmologist to fit a pair of contact lenses on to living creatures.  He originally tried them on rabbits, eventually put them on himself, and finally had a group of volunteers test them.  Although the lens was tolerable, it couldn’t be worn for long periods of time.

In 1948, plastic contact lenses were created, and these only covered the eye’s cornea.  They could be worn for at most 16 hours.  The best transformation in the contact lens world occurred in 1960 when two Czech chemists Otto Wichterle and Drahoslav Lim created soft lenses.  Once soft contact lenses were brought into the world, the contact lens industry took off.  Since then, other contact lenses have been developed.  There are now contact lenses made out of several different materials and lengths of durability.