Origins of the keratometer and its evolving role in ophthalmology

Ron Gutmark, David L. Guyton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The keratometer, or ophthalmometer as it was originally known, had its origins in the attempt to discover the seat of accommodation in the eye. Since that early beginning, it has been re-invented a number of times, with improvements and modifications made in the original principles of its design for new applications that arose as ophthalmology advanced. The cornea is not only responsible for the majority of the refraction in the eye, but is also readily accessible for measurement and modification. The keratometer's ability to measure the cornea has allowed it to play a central role in critical advances in ophthalmic history. This review describes the origins and principles of this instrument, the novel applications that led to the keratometer's continued resurgences over its nearly 250-year history, and the modern devices that have borrowed its basic principles and are beginning to replace it in common clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-497
Number of pages17
JournalSurvey of ophthalmology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010


  • Astigmatism
  • Contact lens
  • Cornea
  • Doubling mechanism
  • History
  • IOL power calculation
  • Keratometer
  • Ophthalmic devices
  • Ophthalmometer
  • Refractive surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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