If you are one of the millions of people who wear contact lenses, an Olympus ultrasonic thickness gage may have helped their manufacturer ensure that your lenses are the proper shape and thickness for your prescription. Shortly after soft contact lenses were introduced in the 1970s, we developed a pioneering ultrasonic system that quickly and reliably measures the thickness and radius of curvature of soft lenses. Our current system represents the fourth generation of this specialized technology, and it is used by some of the world’s major contact lens manufacturers.
Most soft contact lenses are made in a multistep process using specialized polymers that undergo transformations from a liquid to a solid and then to a soft, strong gel. In the first step, the liquid polymer is formed in a mold that shapes the radiuses and determines the thickness. The liquid is then hardened, either by curing with ultraviolet light or by cooling. The result is a hard lens which is then soaked in a warm saline solution. The polymer absorbs water, softens, and takes its final shape. Some specialized lenses are formed individually by machining a disk of hard polymer on a lathe and then softening it by the same soaking process.