Great Enlightened Society of Oculists
The Great Enlightened Society of Oculists AKA The "High Enlightened (Hocherleuchtete) Oculist Order" of Wolfenbüttel was a mid 1700s German Order based on Freemasonry. Their symbol was a special cataract surgical needle and three Cats. It was theoretically co-ed, but as there were no women doctors available, it was a moot point. Count Friedrich August von Veltheim (died 1775) was the founder, as he was of several other groups, including the Order of the Golden Poodles.
In their Initiation ceremony the Candidate or Geselle (companion) is first asked to read a blank sheet of paper. When unable to do so, the Master operates on his eyes while his hands are guided by God to remove the mundane blindness which affects Mankind. Then the sheet was handed back (reversed, so the printed back side was visible) to show the Candidate he could now "see". Symbolically, the Practitioner of eye surgery has Spiritual cataracts removed. After that section, it has a story about them "founding" Freemasonry years earlier as a joke (not historically possible) and then gives an in-depth account of the Masonic Master Mason ritual
We only know about it because of a curious Cypher document called the Copiale, which was translated by Christine Schaefer, Kevin Knight, Beata Megyesi and Andreas Onnerfors. To read about the process of deciphering, see WIRED magazine, Dec 2012pg 210 -218 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copiale_cipher ;New York Times Oct 25, 2011 ;
Read it in English here -http://stp.lingfil.uu.se/~bea/copiale/copiale-translation.pdf
It had been compared to the still unbroken the cryptic Voynich manuscript, copies of which were owned by Roger Bacon; John Dee; Athanasius Kircher; Terence McKenna; and which can be viewed at the Yale Beinecke Rare Book Library in New Haven. It is a MUST SEE at http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/collections/highlights/voynich-manuscript if you can't make it to New Haven.
Roger Bacon experimented with magnification by lens in 1262. Although lens had been laid on books for magnification since ancient times in Nineveh, Babylon. Leonardo da Vinci made some sketches which indicate an understanding of the principles involved in 1508. Johannes Kepler explained the science in 1604; René Descartes described the mathematics in 1636. Sir Isaac Newton stuck a blunt needle in his own eye to write OPTIKS in 1704. Salvino D'Armate or Alessandro di Spina are thought to have fashioned the first wearable eye glasses @ 1784. Ben Franklin developed bifocal glasses. Sir George Biddell Airy (1801 - 1892) discovered how to shape the glass to cure astigmatism. In a rush, contact lens technology developed from glasses and lenses @ 1887, with Dr. Theodor Samisch, based on John Herschel's theory of 1827, then developed further in Germany, where August Muller had one made for himself, while Dr. Adolf Eugen Fick tested them on animals in 1887. In the 1950s, Otto Wichterle and Kevin Tuohy started using plastic, which then yielded to a more "breathable" plastic, eventually to the 1980s, where Dr. Michael Bay made them disposable, the ultra thin contact lenses today.
Resources: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/13/magazine/who-made-that-contact-lens.html?src=dayp&_r=0 ; http://inventors.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=inventors&cdn=money&tm=172&f=00&su=p284.13.342.ip_&tt=2&bt=1&bts=57&zu=http%3A//www.ee.umd.edu/~taylor/optics2.htm ;http://scottishrite.org/about/media-publications/journal/article/the-copiale-cipher-an-early-german-masonic-ritual-unveiled/;http://www.wired.com/2012/11/ff-the-manuscript/all/;