history-book-coverThe book begins with chapters on the emergence of optometry in Europe and America from the invention of spectacles in Italy in the late 14th century to the emergence of scientific sight testing in the second half of the 18th century.

The succeeding chapters unfold the history in Australia from 1800 to the present day. In the early years ready-made and second hand spectacles were bought and sold in general stores. Opticians came on the scene in the 1830s. They were good optical craftsmen and could help their clients obtain spectacles best suited to their needs but in limited ways. Then came a technological revolution that transformed the science of examining the eyes and the precise determination of the optical errors of the eye. Opticians got very good at prescribing spectacles and from about 1900 began calling themselves optometrists.

Australian optometrists of the day had kept good pace with the science that was emerging in Europe and America: they beat the tyranny of distance of a country that was a long way from everywhere else. They then engaged in political battles to win recognition and legislation to regulate their profession and improve its educational standards. They faced hostility from a medical profession that wanted to lay claim to all things to do with health, to the exclusion or subordination of others. There were battles glorious, some won and some lost.

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