By Derek Williams
Vision correction - more formally known as the science of optometry - can be traced back to the 1st century AD reflecting the fact that the quest to correct and improve vision is one of man's oldest medical challenges. The use of glasses to correct eyesight began with ancient variations of magnifying glass and the earliest written record of magnification dates back to the 1st century AD, when Seneca the Younger, a tutor of Emperor Nero of Rome, wrote: "Letters, however small and indistinct, are seen enlarged and more clearly through a globe or glass filled with water".
Nero, who reigned from 54-68 AD, was said to have used an emerald as a corrective lens whilst watching the gladiatorial games. By 1270, spectacles were known to have been used by the rich and elderly in China in 1270, although the Chinese credit their invention to Arabia in the 11th century. Others claim they were first invented in Italy. Johannes Kepler, the German scientist, discovered how the retina in the eye creates vision in 1604 but the effectiveness of glasses in the 17th century was often dismissed by oculists. Indeed, little real progress in vision correction was made before the 20th century beyond the development of spectacles and the earliest forms of contact lenses.
The 20th century saw the introduction of new surgical methods of vision correction which have helped to transform optometry. The first surgical eye correction to become popular was radial keratotomy which was designed to correct short-sightedness by making several small incisions in the surface of the cornea, causing it to flatten out. The first cornea transplant that achieved significant improvement in patient's vision was performed in 1936. In 1983, Dr Stephen Trokel, a New York eye surgeon, fired lasers into eyes taken from the cadavers of cows in a bid to discover a more precise means of reshaping the cornea to correct short sightedness giving birth to the laser surgery industry. And now overnight vision correction offers a non-surgical alternative to laser eye surgery .
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