University of Iowa Health Care

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

The History of Gonioscopy

I wrote an article called 'A History of Gonioscopy' that was published in the January 2011 edition of Optometry and Vision Science. Through the courtesy of the journal and the publisher, Wolters Kluwer Health, this is available as a free download from Click on the image below to link to the article.

Angelos Dellaporta

In 1975, Dr. Angelos Dellaporta wrote a wonderful review of the history of gonioscopy that is included here. There has not been much change in the field since 1975 and this classic paper is as useful now as it was when publichsed.

"Historical Notes on Gonioscopy", Dr. Angelos Dellaporta (This is a pdf document. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this paper).

This article is used with the kind permission of Dr. Angleos Dellaporta and the Survey of Ophthalmology.

This article was published in Survey of Ophthalmology,
Vol. 20, Issue 2. A. Dellaporta, "Historical Notes on
Gonioscopy", Pages 137-149, Copyright Elsevier (1975)".

Survey of Ophthalmology Website

Maximilian Salzmann

Salzmann paintingIf you want to feel totally inadequate in your gonioscopic technique, examine the paintings published by Maximilian Salzmann in 1914 and 1915.

Salzmann was the first person to use a contact lens to look at the iridocorneal angle. Besides being a brilliant ophthalmologist, Saltzmann was an accomplished artist. He painted these beautiful images of the iridocorneal angle. Salzmann also a made equally beautiful paintings of the fundus and of other artistic subjects.

There is a very nice review about Maximilian Salzmann by Sugar and Foster (Survey of Ophthalmology 26:28-30, 1981). Interestingly, in their review, they felt that these images had lost largely been lost to public viewing. Through the diligent efforts of my departmental librarians Patricia Duffel and Rita Gallo, we were to find the original papers in which these paintings were published and through the courtesy of S. Karger AG, Basel we are able to share them with you. My colleague, Markus H. Kuehn, Ph.D., was nice enough to translate the figure legends from the original German.

While Salzmann had invented the use of a contact lens (he used the Fick lens – a clunky scleral contact lens made for irregular astigmatism) he found this lens very difficult to use. In the wonderful “Historical Notes on Gonioscopy” (Survey of Ophthalmology 20:137-149, 1975) Dellaporta points out that, of all of the 35 publishing paintings reproduced here, only four were made with a contact lens (Kontakglass). These were figure 7 in 1914 in figure 7, 18 and 27 in 1915. The remainder of these extraordinary paintings were made using a direct ophthalmoloscope with indentation. It is humbling to see the tremendous detail that Saltzmann was able to appreciate using this very crude technique. You can view these paintings here.

E. Lee Allen

This site is dedicated to E. Lee Allen (1910-2006).

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