By the time my third sister got contacts, they were soft lenses, and they came with all sorts of accoutrements. Back then you had to make your own contact lens solution. When you left the optician’s office you had a gallon jug of distilled, a small plastic bottle, a bottle of saline tablets, a contact lens case, and a “boiler”, or contact lens disinfecting unit.
The contact lenses were put in their case with home-made saline solution and placed in the boiler, which was then filled with distilled water. The lenses were to be boiled for one hour.
I don’t know how many times my sisters and I accidently let the water boil off in the machine and in the case, leaving little chips of lenses. Awkward explanations had to be given to our parents.
It was a huge step when Bausch and Lomb started making prepared saline. Such a luxury! AND they started making wetting drops. So soothing!
The disinfecting unit evolved, too. It was a relief when the boiler unit was replaced with a slim boxy device that was plugged in and turned itself off. It even came with a case for when you had to travel.
The trimness of the case, though, did not guarantee safety. One of my sisters brought her bag of contact lens care items with her to France. She had a proper adapter, so she proudly set up her contact lens disinfecting area in her room. She plugged adapter and unit into the French plug, there was a sudden flash, and flames burned a burst pattern on the elegant wallpaper of her room.
She was forced to boil her lenses in an inelegant pan of water for the rest of her stay.