Cringeworthy Contact Lens Fitting Procedure of the 1940s

contact lens fitting 1940s

Being fitted for contact lenses isn’t really a difficult or painful process. A few minutes in the optician’s chair and you’re out of the door with a prescription in hand. It definitely was not that easy in the early days of contacts, though. In the 1940s, those suckers were thick, made of glass, and came with an insanely uncomfortable-looking fitting process.

To get the shape of the lens just right, the optician had to smush some impression-forming slime right onto your eyeball on the end of a suction cup-type device. It was like having a dental impression taken, but on your eyeball. The actress in this newsreel video had to have been paid an awful lot not to scream in horror as that stuff was hardening on her eye.

1940s contact lenses

After the impressions were made, skilled technicians went to work forming, sanding, and filing little discs of glass for wearers to shove into their eye sockets. The newsreel even refers to the lenses as “glasses,” and the model looks exceedingly uncomfortable wearing them. But, hey, guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses, right? At least the external glasses that you don’t have to pry out of your eyes every six hours.

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See more in Vintage Videos or under Vintage & Retro. November, 2014.
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