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The year 1962 marks the centenary of the publication by Snellen of Utrecht of his test types for the determination of visual acuity. This issue of the Archives honors the event by carrying a biography of Snellen as part of the series in "Our Ophthalmic Heritage" by Charles Snyder.
How oculists assessed acuity before 1862 is difficult to determine from the textbooks of the first half of the 19th century. The writers give good accounts of the optics of lenses and of the eye, but describe the vision in only general terms. On the basis of published reports one is led to suspect that some oculists had their patients look out a window at selected objects of various sizes. One author (Hunter, 1845) used a 2-inch keyhole on his stable door and some black iron spikes in a dove-cote at a distance of about 70 feet for determining good acuity.
Rucker CW. Test Types. Arch Ophthalmol. 1962;68(4):439. doi:10.1001/archopht.1962.00960030443001