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Ophthalmoscope, Paris, France, 1871-1900

Herman von Helmholtz (1821-1894) invented the ophthalmoscope in 1851. It is a simple, highly effective instrument used to view the interior of the eye. 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. In this example, a ratchet mechanism rotates two wheels of lenses in front of a perforated mirror.

Object number:

A625215 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