Site display: Normal | Text Only

My Collection | About Us | Teachers

Techniques & Technologies

Select from the menus below to find out more about a technique or technology.


Helmholtz ophthalmoscope, 1851.

Helmholtz ophthalmoscope, 1851.

Credits:Wellcome Library, London.

The ophthalmoscope is an instrument for looking inside the eye in living bodies. It was invented in 1851 by the German physicist and physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz. Using reflecting glass and a concave lens, Helmholtz developed a way to enable physicians to illuminate the retina and observe it at the same time. This instrument allowed physicians to detect and investigate many complaints of the eye, such as glaucoma, tumours and detached retinas. This significantly improved both medical research on the eye and medical practice.

Today, ophthalmoscopes equipped with electric illumination are still used in research and diagnostics.


Related links

Techniques and Technologies:

External links:


A Schett, The Ophthalmoscope: A Contribution to the History of its Development up to the Beginning of the 20th Century = Der Augenspiegel: ein Beitrag zur Entwicklungsgeschichte bis zum Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts, translated by D.L. Blanchard, (Ostend: J.P. Wayenborgh, 1996-97)

J P C Southall, Helmholtz's Treatise on Physiological Optics, with a new introduction by N J Wade, (Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 2000)



The science of the functioning of living organisms and their component parts.