The Evolution Of The Eye Exam

December 10, 2021
The Evolution Of The Eye Exam

The study of the eyes has been around since before ancient Greece. Between then and now, scientists, doctors, philosophers, and optometrists have all made important discoveries that have advanced practices for assessment and treatment. These advances allow the more than 55% of Canadians who wear eyeglasses to see clearly. Optometry comes from the Greek word “opsis,” which means to view, and “metron,” which means measure of rule, therefore giving us a term that means the measure of vision. The invention of technological advances such as glasses and contact lenses, pulsed light treatment, LASIK eye surgery, detection of illnesses, and more have allowed people to see better and live healthier and longer. Here we will discuss a brief history of eye exams and the advancement of optometry to see the progression to modern optometric practices.

A Brief History Of Optometry

There are records of people being treated by physicians for eye ailments as early as 2000 BCE. Those who performed surgeries that resulted in the loss of an eye would be punished by having their hands cut off, which, although unpleasant, gives an indication of the value of eyesight. At this time, methods for healing eye ailments would have included blades and tools as well as chants and prayers.

One of the major historic discoveries of optometry was sometime around 450 BCE when the philosopher Alcmaeon discovered the optic nerve and its connection to the brain. In 280 BCE, Euclid wrote of light travelling in lines and this, along with the discovery of the optic nerve, is imperative for the advancement of optometry. Then in 150 CE, Ptolemy measured the angles of reflection and incidence between air and water. Since this period, great advances were made in the field of optics as the study of human anatomy became more commonly practiced.

The first pair of glasses are believed to have been created in China around the year 1000 CE, and by 1611, there were writings about prisms, mirrors, and lenses by Johannes Kepler and Christoph Scheiner. Benjamin Franklin invented the first bifocal lenses in 1784.

In 1801, Thomas Young discovered astigmatism and by 1827 George Biddal Airy created lenses for correcting it. By 1918, codes of conduct for the practice of optometry were being standardized and the Australian Optometrical Association created a syllabus for education and a distribution of monthly publications in order to advance the practice.

In 1843, the first visual acuity (VA) test to measure vision was created by Heinrich Küchler in Germany. Several iterations and improvements soon came along until 1888 when Edmund Landolt created a new international standard for the VA test. In 1984, the International Council of Ophthalmology proposed the 20/20 standard of vision which is still used today.

Major advancements in eye exams and vision correction have been possible in the last several years due to the rapid advancement of technology. Lasers have been used to correct vision since 1988 and the technology of LASIK was developed in Europe in 1990, eventually being allowed for use in the US and Canada around 1999. There are still medical advancements happening in optometry, such as the development of radio frequency treatment and intense pulsed light treatment as non-invasive treatments for dry eyes. Modern optometry has also come very far in the advancement of early detection of eye disease, as well as minimally invasive treatments and treatments with short recovery times.

Visit My Optometry For The Up To Date Eye Exams

Optometry has been a topic of interest for thousands of years. While modern eye exam practices have much history to be thankful for, the field of optometry is always advancing and focusing on better ways to correct vision impairments and encourage prevention of disease. Modern eye exams look at overall eye health and optometrists are able to recommend a variety of solutions for vision impairment thanks to those who came before them. My Optometrist Calgary is proud to continue practicing optometry with exceptionally high standards. If you are looking for an eye exam with a company that will treat your eyes while also making sure you leave with a better understanding of your optical health, contact My Optometrist by filling out the contact form. With three convenient locations to serve you in NE Calgary, SE Calgary, or Three Hills, My Optometrist will get you seeing clearly.


Q: Why should I get regular eye exams?
A: Eye exams can help you keep up to date on any prescription lenses you may need so that you can see clearly. Even if you don’t require corrective lenses, comprehensive eye exams check your eye health and can allow early detection of any eye health problems. To schedule a comprehensive eye exam with one of our clinics, please book here.

Q: What happens at an eye exam?
A: A comprehensive adult eye exam (for those between 19 and 64 years of age) at My Optometrist Calgary includes:

Q: How often should I get an eye exam?
A: The Canadian Association Of Optometrists recommends that you visit your optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam:

Children should be receiving their first eye exam at 6 months old, have another exam at 3 years old, and then another at 5 years old.

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