A vintage ophthalmoscope

Andrew King traces the development of the ophthalmoscope and describes a vintage model in his possession

A momentous development in the field of clinical ophthalmology occurred in the mid-19th century when the invention of the direct ophthalmoscope took place. The ability to shine focused illumination on the eye’s adnexa and the human retina was to forevermore greatly facilitate the diagnosis and treatment of many ocular disorders.


It is not widely known that it was the English-born Cambridge mathematician Charles Babbage FRS (1792-1871) who first devised and constructed an instrument for examining the retina.1 Babbage had a particular fascination for the design and implementation of scientific instruments and had become interested in eyes as a result of his own ocular problems, which he described as ‘irregular vision’.1

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting Optician Online. Register now to access up to 10 news and opinion articles a month.


Already have an account? Sign in here