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Ophthalmoscope, England, c. 1880-1900

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The ophthalmoscope is a simple, highly effective instrument used to view the interior of the eye. It was invented in 1851 by Herman von Helmholtz (1821-1894). Helmholtz reasoned an observer placing his eye in the path of light reflected from the back of a subject’s eye (through the pupil) could see the subject’s retina. Helmholtz used glass plates angled at 45 degrees to reflect sunlight into the eye. This example was made in England by instrument maker Ferrier. A ratchet mechanism rotates two wheels of lenses in front of a perforated mirror.

Object number:

A664762 Pt1


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    Techniques and Technologies:


    Glossary: ophthalmology

    The branch of medicine dealing with the diseases and surgery of the visual pathways (usually the eyes or the brain).

    Glossary: ophthalmoscope

    An instrument for viewing the interior of the eye, particularly the retina. Light is shone into the eye via a mirror (usually concave) and then examined with or without the aid of a lens. Invented by by Hermann Von Helmholtz in 1850