As early as 1845 Sir John Herschel suggested the idea of contact lenses, though he evidently did nothing about it. The practical application of a lens to the eyeball did not occur until late in the century, when F. E. Muller, a German maker of glass eyes, blew a protective lens to place over the eyeball of a man whose lid had been destroyed by cancer. The patient wore the lens until his death, twenty years later, without losing his vision. The term contact lens originated with Dr. A. Eugen Fick, a Swiss physician, who in 1887 published the results of independent experiments with contact lenses. In 1889 August Muller, a German medical student, described his own experimentation with contact lenses. Although his attempts to use ground lenses were not successful, he did help lay the groundwork for further experimentation. In 1892 other doctors and optical firms in Europe cooperated in developing practical contact lenses; before long several firms began specializing in manufacturing them. By the early 40's a variety of contact lenses was available: blown glass, ground glass, molded glass, plastic and glass, and all plastic. All were still comparatively large and could not normally be tolerated for long periods of time. Improvements in manufacturing, material, and fitting of contact lenses lead to increased numbers of Americans wearing them. By 1964 over 6 million people in the United States were wearing contact lenses, 65% of them female.