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History Of Ophthalmology


In the Greek language, the word ophthalmology breaks down into ophthalmos (“eye”) and logos (“thought or discourse”), which literally translates to “the science of the eyes.” An ophthalmologist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders, diseases, and other eye conditions. Ophthalmologists closely study the physiology and anatomy of the eye, and are trained to perform surgery on this delicate and incredibly complex organ.

Ancient Ophthalmology

Back in 800 BC, an Indian surgeon named Sushruta wrote a document that describes over 75 ocular diseases, along with surgical techniques and different instruments that could be used to treat them. Historians have hailed Sushruta as the world’s first cataract surgeon.
In the past, our understanding of eye anatomy was considerably limited. The cornea was rightly described as the outer coating of the eye, but the pupil was vaguely described as its inner layer, with a fluid at the center that people believed was responsible for transmitting vision to the brain through a nondescript tube.
Aristotle was the first to test these ideas. He dissected animal eyes and found three layers instead of merely two. Based on his findings, Aristotle theorized that three different tubes connected the eye to the brain instead of one. Over the years, people continued to expand upon existing ideas, always proving that the eye was increasingly more complex than they had previously assumed.

Development of New Technology

By the seventeenth century, physicians and researchers were creating instruments and devices that enabled them to study the eye with much more accuracy. Some of these devices included:

  • Microscopes
  • Hand lenses
  • Methods of freezing the eye
  • Methods of fixing the eye for proper study

The first ophthalmic surgeon in Great Britain was John Freke, who was appointed to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1727. Moorsfields Eye Hospital in London was established in 1805 as the first dedicated eye hospital, and soon become a hub for research on the eye, paving the way for modern ophthalmology.

Ophthalmology Today

Today, new advancements in the technology, techniques, and instrumentation used in ophthalmology have led to amazing innovations in Vision Correction. Every year, more people undergo LASIK eye surgery and PRK to free themselves from their dependence on glasses and contact lenses. As time goes on, refractive surgery options continue to expand and serve a wider pool of candidates, and common surgeries like cataract surgery have become safer, more efficient, and more effective than ever.
If you are ready to start down the path to your own Visual Freedom, please contact Doctors For Visual Freedom today to schedule a free LASIK screening with our experienced Chicago ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Golden. We serve patients throughout the Chicagoland area.

Doctors For Visual Freedom
875 N Michigan Avenue, Suite 1820

Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: 930-205-8598
Fax: 312-291-9957
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