Otto Wichterle was a Czechoslovak chemist who in 1961 used an Erector set and a phonograph to produce the world’s first soft contact lenses. Otto Wichterle was born on October 27, 1913, in Prostĕjov, the Czech Republic (then, Austria-Hungary). As a lover of science from his youth, Wichterle went on to earn his doctorate in organic chemistry in 1936 from the Prague Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT). He taught as a professor at his alma mater during the 1950s while developing an absorbent and transparent gel for eye implants.
On 27 October 2021, Google celebrated Wichterle’s 108th birth anniversary with a doodle for his invention of the soft contact lens which around 140 million people around the world uses.
Political turmoil forced Wichterle out of his ICT field-leading him to continue refining his hydrogel development at home. In 1961, Wichterle (a glasses wearer himself) produced the first soft contact lenses with a DIY apparatus made of a child’s erector set, a bicycle light battery, a phonograph motor, and homemade glass tubing and molds. On Christmas afternoon, with the help of his wife Linda, using the machine on his kitchen table, Wichterle finally succeeded. He tried the lenses in his own eyes and although they were the wrong power they were comfortable. Thus, he invented a new way of manufacturing the lenses using a centrifugal casting procedure.
As the inventor of countless patents and a lifelong researcher, Wichterle was elected the first President of the Academy of the Czech Republic following the country’s establishment in 1993.
The consequences of Dr. Wichterle’s kitchen table experimentation changed the way millions of people see and look. ”Before his discovery, there were, of course, contact lenses,” said Dr. Dwight Cavanaugh, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
Wife & Children
Wichterle was survived by his wife, Linda Wichterlováh, and his two sons, Kamil Wichterle and Ivan Wichterle. Linda met her future husband inStražisko where Linda Wichterlová spends her summers to this day. Soon after their wedding in 1938, the war broke out. They had spent it in Zlín where Otto Wichterle worked in Baťa’s company chemical research.
What was Otto Wichterle Cause of Death
Otto died on 18 August 1998 (aged 84) at his summer home in Sdradisko, a Moravian village in the Czech Republic. He died in his sleep after having suffered a heart attack and a stroke the in 1997, according to his grandson, Hynek Wichterle, a doctoral candidate in neurobiology at Rockefeller University.