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  • Celebrating the Impact of Ophthalmic Heritage

    The Academy’s Museum of the Eye and its collection of 38,000 artifacts celebrate the history of ophthalmology. Since its inception in 1980, the museum has been funded by the Academy Foundation. With the support of the Academy Foundation, the museum’s exhibits and website inspire an appreciation of vision science, the profession and important contributions made toward preventing vision loss. In 2015, nearly 95,000 people visited the museum website – a 210 percent increase over 2014.

    The museum’s collection includes photographs that document the history of U.S. Public Health Service trachoma hospitals in rural America, 1914–1924.

    Pivotal discoveries in eye care history. Modern medicine began in the 19th century with disease and bacteriology advancements,together with the introduction of instrumentation, drugs and new practices. During this time, ophthalmology emerged as both a distinct medical and surgical discipline and a science. Several ophthalmologists who sought to better understand the human eye and improve the quality of vision help bring about this transformation.

    The museum’s new exhibit, “Great Insights and Great Thinkers in Ophthalmology,” highlights seven ophthalmic advancements and turning points in history. The exhibit debuted at AAO 2015 in Las Vegas. Visitors learned, among other breakthroughs, how eye injuries caused by airplane shrapnel in World War II led to the invention of the intraocular lens.

    Who do you think was the greatest thinker in ophthalmology and what was his or her most compelling insight? Take the poll and see what your colleagues think.

    Artifacts at your fingertips. You don’t have to travel to San Francisco or the annual meeting to enjoy the museum’s collection. You can view much of the collection on the Museum of the Eye website, including:

    • A complete Google Glass outfit from the Google Glass Explorer Program. The kit includes ear piece for sound, snap-on sun shade, additional nose pads, glasses case, charging cord and instructions for use.
    • The Spencer E. Sherman, MD Antique Ophthalmology Book Collection, including this rare volume: “Iconographie Ophthalmologique” by J. Sichel, 1859.
    • Dr. Hyman M. Katz’s portable surgical set in metal case, c1950.