A History of Australian Optometry (Paperback)

$75.00 $22.50

Read the book review by David Cockburn

This book tells the 200 year story of the emergence of optometry in Australia as an important primary health care profession.  It has been carefully researched to tell the “what, why and who” of the story in the context of a changing society.  For all this it is still an easy read and is lightened with pictures, anecdotes and asides about the quirks of history.

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Product Code: BO930 Categories: ,


Author: Barry L Cole

Published: 24/10/2015

Edition: 1

Pages: 320


The story begins in Europe and America with invention of spectacles in Italy in the late 14th century, the emergence of systematic sight testing in the 17th century and how this got its solid scientific foundations in the 18th and 19th centuries.  There were no opticians among the earliest European settlers in Australia in the late 18th century.  Newspaper advertisements show that, in the early years, spectacles were bought and sold in general stores and selected by trial and error.  The first advertisement for an optician was in 1831 but opticians did not advertise sight testing until much later, about 1885.  They embraced new technology and by the turn of century began calling themselves optometrists.  They battled the tyranny of distance at a time when the scientific advances were taking place in Europe and America.  Australian optometrists kept good pace with what was happening in those countries.  They engaged in political battles to win recognition and legislation to regulate their profession and improve its educational standards.  There were battles glorious, some won and some lost.


Table of Contents:




Where and When the Big Events Took Place

1. The Foundations of Optometry: 1286 to 1900

2. The Beginnings of Modern Optometry:  England, America and Canada: 1880 – 1950

3. Australian Optometry Gets a Foothold:  1800 to 1900

4. Australian Optometry Gets Organised:  1900 to 1920

5. Legislation to Regulate the Profession:  1900 to 2010

6. Optometric Education in the 20th Century:  From Fellowships to University Degrees

7. The Australian College of Optometry: Trailblazer in the Second Half of the 20th Century

8. Australian Optometry Embarks on Research

9. The Scope of Optometric Practice 1900 to 1950:  The Engines of Change

10. Expanding Scope of Optometric Practice 1950 to 2000:  Detection and Diagnosis of Eye Disease

11. Expanding Scope of Optometric Practice 1950 to 2000:  Optometry Takes Command of Contact Lenses

12. Expanding Scope of Optometric Practice 1950 to 2000:  Better Eye Care for Young and Old

13. Expanding Scope of Optometric Practice 1950 to 2000:  Optometry Becomes a Therapeutic Profession

14. Australian Optometry and Public Health: The Health Insurance Battles

15. Australian Optometry Gets Really Involved in Public Health

16. Australian Optometry Takes the World Stage to Prevent Blindness

Appendix. Leaders Who Turned the Tides of Optometric History in Australia




About the Author:

Barry Cole was in the thick of the making of the history of optometry in Australia for 65 years.  His father was an optometrist and he followed in his father’s footsteps by qualifying in optometry at the Australian College of Optometry in 1955.  He became the foundation Professor of Optometry at the University of Melbourne in 1973 and is now Professor Emeritus.  He was also the Director of the Australian College of Optometry from 1964 to 1998.

Pages:  320

Product Type:  Paperback

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Barry L Cole

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