The American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO) was established in 1916. Then, as now, the growth of specialty medicine was directly related to the advances of medical science and to the benefits these advances have brought to patients since the turn of the century. More recently, a technologic revolution has restored vision to countless patients with cataracts. Less publicized, but equally important, are the therapeutic measures available to patients by physicians practicing subspecialties of ophthalmology.
But progress has sometimes been slow. Physicians even at the turn of the century were aware that there was no system to assure the public that a physician claiming to be a specialist was so qualified. Each physician was the sole assessor of his (or, much less often, her) qualifications to practice a given specialty.
In the first few years after 1900, there were informal discussions about the need for some type of certification in ophthalmology,
Tasman W. The 75th Anniversary of the American Board of Ophthalmology. Arch Ophthalmol. 1991;109(8):1077-1078. doi:10.1001/archopht.1991.01080080037022