Museum of Vision

Dedicated to preserving ophthalmic history

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Sectional Navigation

  1. Selections from the Sherman Collection
  2. History of Ophthalmology in the Asia Pacific
  3. Their Eyes to the Sky
  4. Great Insights and Great Thinkers in Ophthalmology
  5. Beyond Ophthalmology, Beyond the Clinic
  6. Extreme Vision: Science Fiction or Truth
  7. Contagion! Epidemics in Ophthalmic History
  8. The Eyes of War
  9. Spectacular Spectacles
  10. To Fool the Eye
  11. Windows to the Soul
  12. Picturing The Eye: Ophthalmic Film and Photography
  13. Collecting Ophthalmology: 30 Years at the Museum

Ophthalmic Film

The kinetograph or kinetoscope was invented in 1891 by William K.L. Dickson while he was employed in the Thomas Alva Edison workshop. Dickson used celluloid and film processes developed by George Eastman for the still camera to capture moving images and play them back again. Sound was introduced to film in 1923.

Surgical films were not far behind. The American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology began exhibiting surgical films during its 1935 annual meeting. In 1950, the AAOO produced its own film, "Embryology of the Eye."

Today the Academy Archive, housed at the Museum of Vision, maintains a collection of over 200 motion pictures including surgical films, oral history interviews, public service announcements, media coverage of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and patient education films.

Cataract Films
A collection of cataract extractions on film from couching to more modern techniques.

Ophthalmic Cameras
A collection of scenes featuring both still and movie cameras at work.

Ophthalmic Procedures Part 1
A collection of film sequences featuring corneal transplants, embryology of the eye, removal of orbital tumor and exophthalmos surgery.

Ophthalmic Procedures Part 2
Clips from films featuring glaucoma diagnosis and treatment, conjunctivorhinostomy, retinal surgery with scleral buckle and VISC.

Demonstration of Schiotz Tonometer
On May 12, 1905, Hjalmar Schiotz (1850-1927) demonstrated his indentation tonometer.  Its popularity continued for much of the 20th Century as seen here in this short film clip.


The Museum of Vision is pleased to show these film selections from the Academy Archives. Please note that the Museum of Vision owns these films, but not their copyright, which in some instances is difficult to determine. The museum, therefore, is sharing clips from its collection rather than entire films and welcomes any copyright holders to contact us directly.



  1. Early Photographs
  2. Civil War Era Photographs
  3. Photographs Related to Advances in Medicine
  4. Internal Ocular Photographs
  5. Cameras
  6. Stereographs
  7. Ophthalmic Film
  8. Symposium

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