• Museum of Vision Timelines

    1. 1950 BCE

      Code of Hammurabi described fees for medical services including eye operations.

    2. 1534 BCE

      Ebers Papyrus listed 100 cures for eye diseases.

      Eye of Horus amulet

      2200-400 BCE

    3. 600 BCE

      Susruta Samhita listed 76 eye diseases and 51 eye operations including couching for cataract.

    4. 440 BCE

      Hippocrates (460 – 375 BCE) wrote about “glaukoma,” a light blue or green color of the iris and lens.

    5. 440 BCE

      Hippocrates (460-375 BCE) wrote about “glaukoma” from the Greek word “glaukos” meaning a light blue or green color.

    6. 600 BCE

      Sushruta wrote the first text on surgery. The Sanskrit manuscript describes couching of cataract.

    7. 30 BCE

      Celsus (25 BCE – 50 CE) wrote about couching for cataract.

    8. 30 CE

      Aulus Cornelius Celsus (25 BCE - 50 CE) wrote about couching or reclination of the lens.

    9. 170 CE

      Claudius Galen (130 – 200) wrote over 100 books on medicine, including eye diseases and their treatments.

    10. 170

      Claudius Galen (130-200 CE) writes about abrasio corneae or superficial keratectomy

    11. 610

      Chao Yuanfang published the first Chinese medical text to specifically list eye diseases; it includes special mention of pediatric conditions.

    12. 1286

      Eyeglasses first appeared in Pisa, Italy.

      Leather framed spectacles

      c1700

    13. 1578

      Eyecups or baths found listed in European household, possibly the earliest record of daily, personal eye care.

      Spode porcelain eyecup

      c840

    14. 1583

      Felix Platter proposed that the lens was “the looking glass” of the eye and that the retina was the true photoreceptor.

    15. 1583

      Felix Platter (1536-1614) proposed that the lens was “the looking glass” of the eye and that the retina was the true photoreceptor

    16. 1603

      Johannes Lippershey discovered the telescope.

      Notgeld printed by Rathenow

      Germany c1920

    17. 1604

      Johannes Kepler described the image formed on the retina

    18. 1604

      Johannes Kepler described the image formed on the retina

    19. 1622

      Richard Banister of England published his observation that glaucoma was associated with a hardening of the eye.

    20. 1705

      Pierre Brisseau (1631-1717) reported that cataract occurs definitively in the lens- something that had been heretofore in dispute.

    21. 1707

      Antoine Maitre-Jean (1650-1725) reported that it was possible for an animal to see without its lens — hence popularizing the notion of removal of cataracts.

    22. 1750

      Jacques Daviel (1696-1762) was the first to perform extracapsular extraction.

    23. 1755

      Johann Gottfried Zinn (1727-1759) published a definitive anatomy of the eye.

      “Descripto Anatomica Oculi Humane Iconibus Illustrata”

      1755

    24. 1760

      Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802) suggested trephining the cornea and removing the opaque portion, thinking that the cornea would then heal transparent

    25. 1765

      King Louis XV named Deshais-Gendron the Chair of the world’s first ophthalmology department.

    26. 1779

      Benjamin Franklin invented bifocal eyeglasses.

      Split bifocals

      c1850

    27. 1789

      Guillaume Pellier de Quengsy (d.1835) published a theory of keratoprosthesis

    28. 1799

      George Joseph Beer (1763-1821) introduced intracapsular extraction.

    29. 1801

      Thomas Young (1773-1829) discovered astigmatism and was the first to map the normal field of vision.

    30. 1805

      John Cunningham Saunders (b.1773) established the world’s first public eye hospital, the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital (Moorfields).

    31. 1805

      George Joseph Beer (1763-1821) describes iridectomy.

    32. 1824

      Franz Reisinger (1768-1855) first suggested that a scarred human cornea be replaced by animal cornea and coined the term “keratoplasty”

    33. 1826

      Louis Braille (1809-1860) invented an alphabet of raised dots to aid the blind.

      French postage stamp

      1948

    34. 1827

      John Isaac Hawkins (1772-1855) invented trifocal lenses.

    35. 1833

      Wilhelm Tohme (1809-?) attempted the first keratoplasty

    36. 1835

      William MacKenzie, MD published the symptoms and signs of glaucoma, advocating the sclera punch to relieve intraocular pressure.

    37. 1838

      Richard Sharp Kissam attempted first animal corneal graft to a human eye

    38. 1839

      Wills Eye Hospital started the first US eye residency program.

    39. 1841

      T. Konigshofer experimented on animals with the lamellar graft and described using a double knife.

    40. 1850

      Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) demonstrated the ophthalmoscope.

      Helmholtz plaquette

      1894

    41. 1850

      Herman von Helmholtz (1821-1894) demonstrated the ophthalmoscope.

    42. 1853

      Frans Cornelis Donders (1818-1889) described pigmentary retinopathy.


      1853

      Ernst Adolph Coccius (1825-1890) described retinal detachment.

    43. 1854

      Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) demonstrated the keratometer.

    44. 1854

      Hermann von Helmholtz (182-1894) demonstrated the keratometer.

    45. 1857

      Albrecht von Graefe (1828-1870) reported successful treatment of congestive glaucoma using iridectomy.


      1857

      Carl Forster introduced the first perimeter.

    46. 1862

      Hermann von Snellen (1834-1908) created a test card for visual acuity.

      Snellen chart

      c1950

    47. 1863

      Frans Cornelis Donders (1818-1889) developed the first tonometer, or instrument to measure intraocular pressure in his lab between 1863 and 1868.

    48. 1864

      Albrecht von Graefe (1828-1870) introduced the small incision surgery.

    49. 1876

      Weber noted the effect of an extract of calabar bean which lead to the development of pilocarpine.

    50. 1865

      Henry Willard Williams (1831-1895) introduced sutures to cataract surgery, also first to use ether anesthesia.

    51. 1871

      Isabel Hayes Chapin Barrows (1845-1913) was the first woman to study ophthalmology at the University of Vienna and the first woman ophthalmologist to practice in the US.

    52. 1872

      F. Monoyer (1836-1912) suggested that lenses be marked with their dioptric power, standardizing spectacle manufacture.

    53. 1878

      Willy Kuhne (1837-1900) demonstrated that visual pigments regenerate in the dark, the first clue to how the visual cycle works.

    54. 1878

      Willy Kuhne (1837-1900) demonstrated that visual pigments regenerate in the dark, the first clue to how the visual cycle works.

    55. 1883

      Robert Koch discovered Haemophilus aegyptius or Koch‐Weeks bacillus, the cause of acute conjunctivitis.

      Julius von Michel determined Mycobacterium tuberculosi was the cause of uveitis.

      Koch commemorative medal

      1972

    56. 1884

      Carl Koller (1857-1944) introduced topical anesthesia.

    57. 1886

      A. Jess, MD described scleral buckle for the treatment of retinal detachment


      Henry Power (1829-1911) advocated that for consistent successs, only human corneal tissue could be used for keratoplasty.

    58. 1887

      F.E. Muller created first hard contact lenses.

      Scleral contact lenses

      c1950

    59. 1888

      August Wagenmann (1862-1955) proved that full thickness corneal grafts could heal transparently in rabbits.

    60. 1890

      New York State passed the Howe Law, mandating the use of silver nitrate in newborns to fight ophthalmia neonatorum.

      Lucien Howe

      1895

    61. 1892

      Alexi Maklakoff introduced his tonometer.

    62. 1896

      American Academy of Ophthalmology founded, originally named the Western Ophthalmological, Laryngological and Rhinological Association.

    63. 1905

      United States instituted mandatory eye exams for trachoma at all immigration centers; anyone found to have the disease is refused entry.

    64. 1905

      Eduard Zirm (1887-1944) performs first successful, full thickness corneal transplant on a human patient utilizing a human donor cornea from a recent enucleation.

    65. 1905

      Hjalmar Schiötz (1850-1927) introduced his tonometer.

    66. 1911

      Allvar Gullstrand (1862-1930) awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the dioptrics of the eye.

    67. 1916

      American Board of Ophthalmology established, the first medical specialty board in the US.

      Shinobu Ishihara (1879-1962) published his definitive color vision test.

      "Test for Color Blindness"

      c1940

    68. 1917

      Ignacio Barraquer introduced the erisophake, an instrument that would suction out cataracts.

    69. 1920

      Jules Gonin, MD (1870-1935) introduced cautery for scleral resection.

    70. 1921

      Friedrich Dimmer published the first fundus photographs.

    71. 1928

      Marc Amsler (1891-1968) introduced the Amsler grid for detection of macular degeneration.

    72. 1931

      Vladimir Filatov (1875-1956) performs first successful, full thickness corneal transplant using preserved human corneal tissue (cadaver donor).

    73. 1932

      Lord Edgar Douglas Adrian (1889-1977) received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work in the electrophysiological activity of the brain, visual cortex and optic nerve.

    74. 1937

      A. Jess, MD described scleral buckle for the treatment of retinal detachment

    75. 1938

      Ramon Castroviejo introduced his double knife at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and began a campaign for people to will their corneas to science.

    76. 1939

      Otto Barkan, MD popularized gonioscopy.

    77. 1941

      Norman McAlister Gregg linked congenital cataract and rubella infection of the mother in the first trimester.

    78. 1944

      R. Townley Paton founded the first eye bank: The Eye Bank for Sight Restoration.

    79. 1946

      Charles Schepens, MD (1912-2006) demonstrated binocular stereoscopic indirect ophthalmoscopy with scleral depression


      1946

      Gerd Meyer-Schwickerath, MD (1920-1992 ) began to experiment with light photocoagulation.

    80. 1948

      Jose I. Barraquer (1916-1998) invented a microkeratome and performed first myopic keratomileusis (MKM).

    81. 1949

      Ernst Custodis, MD (1898-1990) reported on the successful use of the segmented sclera buckle while Henricus J.M. Weve demonstrated the sclera stitch.

    82. 1950

      Helenor Campbell Wilder Foerster (1895-1998) of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology documented nematode infections in the eye.

    83. 1950

      Tsutomu Sato (1902-1960) invented a microkeratome and performed first radial keratotomy (RK) for myopia.

    84. 1949

      Sir Nicholas Harold Lloyd Ridley (1906-2001) performed the first intraocular lens implant (IOL).

    85. 1955

      Hans Goldmann, MD introduced his tonometer.

    86. 1956

      Drs. H. Harms and Joaquin Barraquer adapted the Zeiss optical microscope for use by physicians during eye surgery.

    87. 1957

      T’ang and colleagues in China were the first to culture Chlamydia trachomatis and confirmed it was bacterial.

    88. 1958

      Joaquin Barraquer introduced enzymatic zonulolysis.

    89. 1959

      David Alvis and Harold Novotny performed the first fluorescein angiography.

      Fluorescein angiogram of Dr. David Alvis

      1959

    90. 1960

      Harold Novotny and David Alvis produced the first fluorescein angiogram.

    91. 1961

      Otto Wichterle created first soft contact lenses.

      Charles Campbell and Charles Koester reported the first human ophthalmic laser treatment for a retinal tumor.

    92. 1961

      Tadeusz Krwawicz (1910-1990) introduced cryoextraction.

    93. 1961

      Charles Campbell and Charles Koester reported the first human ophthalmic laser treatment for retinal tumor.

    94. 1962

      Paul A. Cibis, MD (1911-1965) demonstrates the injection of silicone oil for the treatment of retinal detachment.

    95. 1964

      Drs. Harvey Lincoff and John McLean describe cryosurgery for the treatment of retinal detachment.

    96. 1964

      Jose I. Barrraquer (1916-1998) introduced the lamellar keratectomy surgery method of cryolathe keratomileusis.

    97. 1967

      Ragnar Granit (1900-1991), Haldan Hartline (1903-1983) and George Wald (1906-1997) were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for demonstrating the primary neural organization of the retina and the role of vitamin A.

    98. 1967

      Ragnar Granit (1900-1991), Haldan Hartline (1903-1983) and George Wald (1906-1997) were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for demonstrating the primary neural organization of the retina and the role of vitamin A.

    99. 1967

      Charles Kelman, MD (1930-2004) introduced ultrasound or phakoemulsification.

    100. 1967

      William B. Snyder, MD introduced laser iridotomy.

    101. 1968

      United States established the National Eye Institute.

      L’Esperance conducted the first human trial utilizing an ophthalmic laser treatment.

      Pen used by President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign H.R. 12843

      August 16, 1968

    102. 1968

      John Cairns, MD introduced trabeculectomy.

    103. 1970

      Robert Machemer, MD (1933-2009) demonstrated the first practical suction vitrectomy instrument for the treatment of retinal detachment (VISC I).

    104. 1972

      First commercial VISC instrument with fiber optics for illumination developed by Robert Machemer, MD (VISC VII), manufactured by Klein.

    105. 1978

      Timolol maleate introduced to the market.

    106. 1980

      Herbert Kaufman and Theodore Werblin introduced aphakic epikeratoplasty.

    107. 1981

      David Hubel (b.1926) and Torston Wiesel (b.1924) jointly received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work demonstrating how visual information is coded in the retina and brain.

    108. 1987

      Marguerite McDonald, MD first uses excimer laser to perform PRK on humans.

    109. 1990

      LASIK surgery developed by Drs. Lucio Buratto and Ioannis Pallikaris.

    110. 1996

      Dimitri T. Azar, MD first performed a procedure he called “alcohol-assisted flap PRK” also known as LASEK.

    111. 1996

      Prostaglandins introduced to the market.

    112. 1999

      Theo Seiler, MD performed the world's first wavefront-based laser treatment.

    113. 2015

      William Campbell and Satoshi Omura received one half of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work leading to a therapy for onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness.