Museum of Vision

Dedicated to preserving ophthalmic history

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  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

Early Photographs

Partoid tumor

Despite early problems with internal ocular photography, pioneer ophthalmologists took dramatic external photographs of their patients to share cases with their colleagues, educate, and document their experiences with disease. Photography has remained the greatest educational tool ever invented. In the 1840s and 1850s ophthalmologists using the daguerreotype process took photographs of their patients, several of which were published as engravings in medical journals.

Ophthalmologists were also pioneers in photographic publishing and created some of the early atlases and texts using photographs, which in the 1860s and 1870s meant hand tipping-in each photograph into every publication. Unquestionably the greatest of these early publishing pioneers was A. de Montméja, ophthalmologist at Paris’ Hospital Saint Louis, who began photographing patients in 1865 and was the leading publisher of medical and ophthalmic photography. In 1868 he published a dermatological atlas with cases of ophthalmic interest.  In 1870 he published, with ophthalmologist Edouard Meyer, the world’s first surgical text with close-up photographs of operations. It would be almost 30 years before a similar work was produced in any surgical field.  Montméja also published photographs of retinal drawings in his noted photographic journal in the late 1860s and 1870s.

Prior to Montméja’s publications another surgeon published a text with photographs of ophthalmic interest.  In 1865 London’s Charles Moore published photographs of ‘Rodent Cancer’ (basal cell carcinoma) treated by surgery advocated by Jacques Daviel, best remembered for his introduction of ‘modern’ cataract extraction technique in 1750.

The images presented in this concise photographic history of ophthalmology are from the Burns Archive as published in "Ophthalmology: A Photographic History 1845-1945".

  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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Cataract surgery

Courtesy of the Burns Archive


Courtesy of the Burns Archive

American Academy of Ophthalmology