The Evolution Of Optometry

Leon Bowman

In the modern world, eyeglasses and contact lenses are a common occurrence that have become a regular part of eye health. Lenses weren't always used, however, for the treatment of vision loss. Prior to a proper understanding of optics and the physiology of the eye, there wasn't much to be done for those suffering from nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. Read on to get a basic understanding of the evolution of optometrical care.

The Beginning

Roger Bacon, an English philosopher and Franciscan friar of the 13th century, was one of the first to call attention to optical lenses. As a philosopher and a scientist, he was a strong believer of empirical study—that is, making observations of the world around you.

Bacon had a strong understanding of how the eyes worked, as well as how they conducted information to the brain. He was heavily influenced by two Islamic scientists, Alkindus and Alhazen, and from there, went on to make hypotheses about the use of spectacles to improve weak vision. Prior to his discoveries, lenses weren't widely used for the treatment of vision loss, and it's not entirely known when they first came into use.

Modern Optics Is Born

Johannes Kepler, also known as the pioneer of modern optics, was a German mathematician and astronomer who studied in the 16th and 17th centuries. He was able to apply his knowledge of astronomy beyond the field, and with that knowledge, he was the first to formulate the proper design of eyeglasses for both farsightedness and nearsightedness.

As the scientific work behind eyesight began to grow, optometric service shops began to pop up throughout the modern world. Corrective lenses became a common solution for those suffering from common ailments affecting sight.

Optics and Optometry Today

The first courses in optometry were offered at Columbia University in the year 1910. As optometry began to gain ground as a professional practice, recognition of its need as a professional service grew. Today, optometrists are respected members of the medical community who examine and treat problems of the eye, and prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses for those with weak vision.

As the world's understanding of optics grew, so did the profession. Optometrists fill an important and very specific need, and that is the proper care of eyes and treatment of their accompanying problems. While eyeglasses are seen as a common treatment method for those with poor vision, they are truly an invention to be marveled at. Their impact on people has reached beyond what even early scientists thought it ever would—eyeglasses allow individuals to see what they might not have been able to otherwise, which has a positive impact on the lives of numerous people. To learn more, visit Dr. Harvey Mayers


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