LOOKING BACK – APRIL 2011

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AN ILLUMINATING LOOK BEHIND OPHTHALMOSCOPY

With the understanding that physicians could better diagnose a number of patient conditions with
ophthalmoscopy if they had a simple, portable, and reliable device, Dr. Francis Welch and William Noah Allyn
(shown above) worked together to develop the world’s first handheld direct-illuminating ophthalmoscope
(shown above) in 1915. This resulted in their establishing the company Welch Allyn the same year.

Allyn first marketed this new handy ophthalmoscope at an American Medical Association convention in
New York City in 1920 (shown above). With no money for a booth, the resourceful Allyn placed himself and the
product in the most strategic location—just outside the men’s room. His strategy worked as he was
bombarded with interest in the invention.
While product design evolved over the years, according to the company,
the basic design of the ophthalmoscope did not change until 2001 with the launch of the PanOptic™
ophthalmoscope, also a Welch Allyn invention, which provided a wider field of view to more easily
observe conditions such as hypertension, diabetic retinopathy, and papilledema.


Courtesy of Welch Allyn.

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