Willebrord Snell discovers the law of refraction.
First book on optometric principles, The Use of Eyeglasses, published in Spain by Daza de Valdes.
King Charles I grants a royal charter to the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, London.
John McAllister, Sr. opens first U.S. shop for optometric services, Philadelphia. By 1816 John McAllister & Son was making gold and silver spectacles in a family business that survived until early 20th century.
John Dalton describes color blindness.
Invention of the trial lens case facilitated the determination of a lens prescription independent of the vending and dispensing of spectacles.
James Prentice, English optician, arrives in U.S. His son Charles F. Prentice, will become the “father of American optometry.”
The word “optometry” used by Verschoor in Holland in a dissertation on refraction.
Beginnings of Illinois College of Optometry, the oldest continuous program, with origins in courses and schools such as McFatrich, Needles, Chicago College, and Northern Illinois College of Optometry.
Monoyer proposes the term diopter for lens power.
Cuignet demonstrates principle of retinoscopy, retinoscope introduced.
English translation of E. Landolt’s book, Refraction and Accommodation of the Eye and Their Anomalies published. Uses the term optometry to describe refractive procedures, although refracting opticians were slow to embrace the term.
A. E. Ficke and F.A. Mueller independently experiment with blown-glass contact lenses.
Charles F. Prentice threatened with jail for charging a fee for eye exam [regarded as the practice of medicine]. In 1896 he issued a treatise on the reasons why states should recognize the professional status of the optometrist.
Appearance of The Optical Journal, first optometric journal published in the U.S.
Passage of first state law recognizing and regulating the practice of optometry -- Minnesota. (All states had optometry laws by 1921)
Optometrists go on record favoring regulations against drivers with defective vision and encouraging visual tests for driver licensing.
In the case of Martin v. Baldi the PA Supreme Court rules that optometry is a calling separate from medicine and cannot be regulated by the state board of medicine as a “minor branch” of that profession. Albert Fitch had convinced Pennsylvania optometrists to pursue legal action.
International Board of Boards (IBB) established. Name changed to International Association of Boards of Examiners in Optometry (IAB) in 1954, and to the Association of Regulatory Boards (ARBO) in 1999.
American Academy of Optometry organized to encourage investigative research and improve the ethical and scientific standing of optometry. Proposed in 1905 by E. LeRoy Ryer; first Chairman: Morris Steinfeld.
Pennsylvania College of Optometry awards the first Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree.
The District of Columbia enacts an optometry law, completing a total U.S. coverage
New York Commissioner of Education obtains passage of a bill that allows only graduates of a school of optometry affiliated with a university to qualify for the state board examination, thereby initiating the end of the apprenticeship system of licensure.
Optometric Extension Program begun, based on a plan developed by the Oklahoma Optometric Association for membership education. Established as a private organization in 1936.
“Optometry on Trial” published in Reader’s Digest. Written by Roger Riis, it contained untrue and unfair statements about optometry that set off turmoil and controversy between optometrists and physicians. Partly as a response and rebuttal to Riis’ charges, the book The Story of Optometry was authored by Wilber Brucker under AOA auspices in 1938.
Bill introduced in Pennsylvania which would define the scope of practice as that taught in optometry schools.
Plastic contact lenses introduced by Theo Obrig and John Mullen. PMMA, Polymethyl methacrylate was originally discovered in 1915 as a paint binder.
New York optometrist L. Lester Beacher produces textbook on contact lens technique.
Optometrists first commissioned in the U.S. Army and placed on the staff of Veterans Administration Hospitals. As early as 1944 AOA pushed to establish an Optometry Corps in the military, but it did not succeed. Many years passed before optometrists reached a status equivalent to the other major health professions.
Formation of Association of Military Optometrists; first President: Eugene Strawn. Organized as Armed Forces Optometric Society (AFOS) in 1970.
National Board of Examiners in Optometry (NBEO) founded by IAB and ASCO, first National Board exam given in 1952.
Association of Optometric Executive Secretaries formed; name changed in 1958 to Society of Optometric Association Executives, and in 1969 to International Association of Optometric Executives (IAOE).
John William Sheridan selected first Chief of the Optometry Section of the Medical Service Corps, a position he held for over 10 years. Col. Sheridan received the American Optometric Association’s Apollo Award in 1966.
Cross-linked hydrophilic polymer (HEMA) discovered by Otto Wichterle who ushers in the era of the soft contact lens. First spin-cast soft lenses produced in 1961. Many variations and patents in decades that follow.
Pennsylvania optometrists introduce a bill to authorize the use of ophthalmic diagnostic pharmaceutical agents, but it is defeated.
Medicare and Medicaid enacted by U.S. Congress, discriminates against optometrists.
American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) formed. Although discussed and a committee formed by AOA to organize as early as 1941, WW2 interrupted planning. Although there were several attempts at formation, the organization was not fully established until 1968 mainly due to efforts of Indiana University student Raymond I. Myers who became the AOSA’s first President.
LaGuardia meeting, New York City. This informal meeting was a significant event that helped determine the future direction of optometry and the scope of optometric practice
National Eye Institute (NEI) was established by Public Law 90-489, leading to innovative eye research and improved vision care throughout the world. Optometrists Glenn A. Fry and Meredith Morgan were among the first representatives to the NEI’s National Advisory Eye Council. Optometric investigators through the years since have continued to have a major role in vision research and have strengthened the scientific productivity of the NEI.
National Optometric Association (NOA) founded by C. Clayton Powell and John L. Howlette as a forum for African American optometrists. The NOA continues as a professional association of predominantly minority optometrists with a primary concern for delivery of professional eye care to the minority community.
Optometric Historical Society (OHS) formed to collect, preserve, study and promote the history of the profession and to recognize persons and groups making notable contribuions to that heritage. There were 33 charter members in the new group co-founded by optometrist Henry Hofstetter and AOA librarian/archivist, Maria Dablemont.
Alabama legislature authorizes the establishment of a school of optometry, the first to be an integral part of a medical center (UAB).
U.S. Food & Drug Administration approves Bausch & Lomb soft contact lens, consumer advertising begins 1974.
First DPA Law passed -- Rhode Island. This was the first law to specifically authorize optometrists to use ophthalmic drugs for diagnostic purposes. (By 1989 all states and D.C. had DPA laws).
College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) formed with merger of 3 organizations. Comprised of practitioners of vision therapy or vision training.
Non-contact tonometer developed by Bernard Grolman at American Optical Corporation
First VOSH chapter formed in Kansas with 35 optometrists. Incorporated in 1979, Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity is dedicated to providing vision care to people around the world who cannot afford or obtain it.
Bill introduced in North Carolina to authorize optometrists to use and prescribe pharmaceutical agents for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.
First TPA Law passed – West Virginia. This law permitted the use of therapeutic drugs by optometrists. (By 1998 all states and D.C. had TPA laws).
U.S. Supreme Court reverses four decades of precedent and holds that professionals may utilize truthful advertising (Bates v. Arizona State Bar)
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issues rule (Eyeglasses I) that attempted to preempt state laws restricting advertising of ophthalmic goods and services by optometrists, ophthalmologists, and opticians and requiring the release of spectacle prescriptions. In litigation brought by the AOA and others, all but the prescription release requirement was nullified.
Medicare parity legislation allows optometrists to be reimbursed for health-related services performed on nonaphakic patients. Signed by President Reagan in October, the law (PL 99-509) became effective April 1, 1987.
Optometric Oath standardized and adopted by the American Optometric Association (AOA) and the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) as a means of encouraging professional ethical behavior. Over the years numerous optometric organizations and schools had developed and used an optometric oath; one of the first was written by Frederick A. Woll in the 1920s.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approves trade regulation (Eyeglasses II) which sought to prevent enforcement of state laws that restrict or prohibit commercial practice by optometrists. Litigation brought by AOA and others invalidated the regulation on the grounds that Congress did not give the FTC authority to regulate the sovereign actions of states.
Neuro Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA) formed, William Padula first President.
First Georgetown Conference – Summit on Optometric Education, Richard Hopping, Chair. Series of eight topical conferences convened jointly by the American Optometric Association and the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry 1992-1994.
Active optometric involvement in national research studies, CLEK (Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Keratoconus Study) and OHTS (Ocular Hypertension Treatment Study). Many others follow, some ongoing, for example: 1997- COMET; 1999- CLEERE; 2002- VIP; 2004 VA LOVIT; 2005- CITT.
First state law specifically authorizing the use of lasers by optometrists for certain treatment purposes enacted in Oklahoma.
National Optometry Hall of Fame established by the Ohio Optometric Association and the EastWest Eye Conference to recognize colleagues whose lifetime of significant achievements in optometry advanced the profession. First inductees: Irvin Borish, O.D. and Glenn Fry, O.D. (posthumously). In 2008 administration of the NOHF was transferred to the American Optometric Association, and it is currently managed by Optometry Cares – the AOA Foundation.
Optometry 2020 Summits (2005-06), a series of 3 national meetings attended by representatives from over 20 optometric organizations. Their goal was to chart the future of the profession in 8 key areas. Priorities and preferred futures were put forward resulting in a clearer picture of where the profession was and where it wanted to go, and strategies to help it get there.
National Commission on Vision and Health (NCVH) established, a non-partisan group of public health leaders (O.D.s and non-O.D.s) whose mission is to improve the nation’s visual health. A true optometric “think tank” for public health policy, its members evaluate and weigh in on policy debates regarding health care, specifically vision, providing authoritative information and advice to decision-makers, health professionals, and the public at large.
American Board of Optometry (ABO) established as the entity to develop and implement the framework for optometric board certification and maintenance of certification for optometry. A joint memorandum of understanding is entered into by the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA), the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO), and the American Optometric Association (AOA) regarding formation and organization.
National health care legislation enacted, including first federal provider non-discrimination standard to target exclusionary ERISA plans, designating children’s vision as an essential benefit and preserving state patient access to care laws.