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Korean J Med Hist > Volume 23(2); 2014 > Article
Korean Journal of Medical History 2014;23(2): 343-372.
doi: https://doi.org/10.13081/kjmh.2014.23.345
19세기 후반부터 20세기 중반까지 미국 검안학의 발전 과정에서 나타나는 물리학의 영향에 관하여
Effects of Physics on Development of Optometry in the United States from the Late 19th to the Mid 20th Century
Dal Young Kim
Department of Optometry, Seoul National University of Science and Technology, Seoul, Korea. dykim@seoultech.ac.kr
Received: February 27, 2014;  Accepted: July 28, 2014.  Published online: August 31, 2014.
In this paper, it was studied how physics affected development of optometry in the United States, from aspects of formation and academization of optometry. It was also revealed that history of optometry was analogous to history of engineering. Optics in the 19th century was divided into electromagnetic study of light and visual optics. Development of the visual optics promoted professionalization of ophthalmology that had already started in the 18th century. The visual optics also stimulated formation of optometry and optometrists body in the late 19th century of the United States. The American optometrists body were originated from opticians who had studied visual optics. Publication of several English academic textbooks on visual optics induced appearance of educated opticians (and jewelers). They acquired a right to do the eye examination in the early 20th century after C. F. Prentice's trial in 1897, evolving into optometrists. The opticians could be considered as craftsmen, and they were divided into (dispensing) opticians and optometrists. Such history of American optometrists body is analogous to that of engineers body in the viewpoints of craftsmen origin and separation from craftsmen. Engineers were also originated from educated craftsmen, but were separated from craftsmen when engineering was built up. Education system and academization of optometry was strongly influenced by physics, too. When college education of optometry started at American universities, it was not belonged to medical school but to physics department. Physics and optics were of great importance in curriculum, and early faculty members were mostly physicists. Optometry was academized in the 1920s by the college education, standardization of curriculum, and formation of the American Academy of Optometry. This is also analogous to history of engineering, which was academized by natural sciences, especially by mathematics and physics. The reason why optometry was academized not by medicine but by physics is because ophthalmologists did not have conciliatory attitudes to optometry education. Optometry became independent of physics from the 1930s to the 1940s. Optometric researches concentrated on binocular vision that is not included to discipline of physics, and faculty members who majored in optometry increased, so that optometry departments and graduate schools were established around 1940. Such independence from natural sciences after academization also resembles history of engineering. On the contrary, history of optometry was different from history of ophthalmology in several aspects. Ophthalmology had already been formed in the 18th century before development of visual optics, and was not academized by visual optics. Ophthalmologists body were not originated from craftsmen, and were not separated from craftsmen. History of optometry in the United States from the late 19th to the mid 20th century is analogous to history of engineering rather than history of medicine, though optometry is a medical discipline.
Key Words: optometry, physics, optics, engineering, the United States
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