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With the aging population increasing across all communities, the need for convenient and effective vision correction is garnering more and more attention from the optical industry. In fact, as an example, the CDC reports that an estimated 45 million people in the U.S. wear contact lenses alone.
Vision correction helps provide a better overall quality of life for many. Whether it simply improves the way one interacts with the external world or if it opens the door to new career opportunities the benefits are obvious. In fact, modern day vision correction can be traced as far back as 750 years ago to a man named Roger Bacon.
Roger Bacon was born in England during the early 13th century and grew up with a voracious appetite for knowledge, becoming one of the earliest Masters who taught Aristotle's works on natural philosophy and metaphysics. In the years between 1247 and 1267 Bacon focused on, studied and mastered many Greek and Arabic texts written on the science of optics.
Bacon's studies on the nature of light and its impact on rainbows were critical and set a foundation in understanding the principles of reflection and refraction. Through his observations he noted abrupt changes in the direction of light as it strikes a surface between two different media, and a change in the direction of light as it passes from one medium to another; the former being reflection and the latter being refraction. Bacon's studies and observations led him to make the earliest recorded comments regarding the use of lenses for optical purposes. In spite of Bacon's innovative thinking however, it is important to note that magnifying lenses were already being used for reading purposes in China and Europe at the time.
Roger Bacon continued to further his education and understanding of the natural and metaphysical world throughout his life right up until he was condemned to prison sometime between 1277 to 1279, a sentence that many believe was a consequence for his attacks on theologians and scholars of the day.
Although there were examples of lenses already being used in the world during his time, it is difficult to ignore Roger Bacon's writings on the physiology of eyesight, the anatomy of the eye and brain, and how they all interact with light. Optometry surely recognizes Bacon's crucial role in the history of the profession.
Roger Bacon | Stanford University
Roger Bacon | Britannica
Contact Lenses Facts | CDC
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