If it weren't for polymers, some folks, like me for example, wouldn't
be able to see! In the old days, eyeglasses were made of glass. (duh!) But
for some people with really bad eyesight, like me for example, glass lenses would
just be way too thick and heavy. Also when you're a destructive child with bad eyesight,
like I was, glass doesn't stay unbroken for very long. So nowadays eyeglasses are
often made of a special kind of polycarbonate that's a lot lighter
than glass. Also it has a higher refractive index, so really strong lenses don't
have to be nearly so thick, which is great for us folk who can't see very well.
Lenses can also be made of PMMA, or poly(methyl methacrylate).
There are also polymers in contact lenses. A long time ago people wore hard contact lenses that were made of PMMA, or poly(methyl methacrylate). But these were uncomfortable, so much so that many folks just preferred to wear glasses. Thankfully, along came much more comfortable soft contact lenses, made from polyacrylamides and other soft and flexible polymers. In fact, newer contacts are so sophisticated that they are not only comfortable but they "breathe." Why is that important? Turns out your eyeball doesn't have very many blood vessels and those are crucial in carrying oxygen in and waste products out of various parts of the body. So for your eye, much of the oxygen needed to keep the cells alive is simply absorbed from the air that passes over it when you blink. Crazy to imagine that, and even harder to design a contact lens to do. We'll add more about the exciting developments in contact lens polymers shortly, but for now be comforted (get it?) by the fact that your eyeball health is being addressed.
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