The history of optometry is rich and full of events, people, organizations, and stories. Many significant histories document, in detail, the development of optometry and ophthalmology, and how it has led to today’s eye care advancements.
Early Modern Optometry: Foundations
One of the first figures associated with the invention of spectacles was the thirteenth century English philosopher, friar Roger Bacon. In 1263, Roger Bacon realized the potential of using lenses for those weak-of-sight. In his Opus Majus, he wrote, “If anyone examine letters or other minute objects through the medium of crystal or glass…he will see the letters far better and they will seem larger to him.”
By 1286, the first pair of spectacles were invented by an unknown party. By 1300, Europeans fashioned spectacles and often referenced German mathematician, Johannes Kepler, for his pioneering work on the function of the eye. He proposed that images are projected inverted and reverse by the eye’s lens onto the retina. Kepler’s work sparked a series of development in optometry, and in 1629 England granted its first charter to spectacle makers.
The Era of Progression
In 1799, Scotsman John McAllister Sr. opened the first U.S. shop for optometric services. By the end of the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin had invented the bifocal lens (1784), John Dalton brought colorblindness to public discussion (1794), and Thomas Young successfully mapped the normal visual field (1801).
In 1856, Hermann von Helmholtz published his handbook of Physiological Optics. In 1865, cylindrical lenses began being used and optometry as a term began being used in the practice.
In 1888, the first successful use of corrective vision contact lenses was documented. That same year, William Bohne’s Handbook for Opticians was published.
By 1921, the United States recognized optometry as a profession, which helped solidify its importance in the greater medical field. From the mid-1950s and through to this day, optometrists have developed a variety of new technologies and methods to examine the eye and improve vision – these include advanced contact lenses, laser surgery, LASIK, and more.
The Age of Technology
History paved the road for the today’s optometry services, a new age of technology and advancements. Below is a list of just some of these advancements beyond the wider known ones such as LASIK and other similar laser-driven treatments.
Auto-Refractor Keratometer measures an objective refraction or theoretical refraction of what lens power your need for proper vision. The instrument sees where light focuses on the back of your eye and determines what lenses it would take to make an image focus in the right area. It measures the sphere, cylinder and axis for each eye, along with the radius of curvature and axis for the cornea of each eye. These measurements provide data that can help determine your ideal prescription.
Corneal Topographer maps the front cornea surface of your eye. It helps to fit contact lenses, diagnose corneal disease, irregular astigmatism and keratoconus, and evaluate laser vision correction. Corneal topography is used in contact lens fitting services and post- laser vision correction eye exams.
Retinal Fundus Camera takes pictures of the back surfaces of your eye. This instrument helps measure the changes in the optic nerve and how new treatment or change of a treatment is necessary.
Non-Contact Tonometer measures intraocular pressure, which is the pressure inside your eyes. This instrument calculates and converts the response into a measurement of pressure.
Tonopen also measures intraocular pressure. The device touches an anesthetized eye surface to measure pressure and is most commonly used for patients with limited mobility.
Visual Field Analyzer, also known as a peripheral or side vision test, is used for glaucoma patients and patients suffering from headaches, visual disturbances, decreased vision, blind spots, and systemic conditions.
Pachometer measures the thickness of the cornea of your eye. This instrument helps determine correction factors for pressure measurements.
The advancements that have occurred in the field of eye care are nothing short of incredible. With the continuing advancements of bionic eyes for those with severely limited-to-no vision and eyewear that can help color blind patients achieve a visual color range closer to how most of the population sees, there is plenty more the field is still advancing toward.
If you have any questions or concerns about your own vision or eye health, be sure get in contact with the team of ophthalmologists and optometrists at Advanced Eye Medical. We are situated in beautiful Orange County, and would love to help you.