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David A. Atchison, W. Neil Charman; Thomas Young's contribution to visual optics: The Bakerian lecture “On the mechanism of the eye”. Journal of Vision 2010;10(12):16. doi: 10.1167/10.12.16.
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Thomas Young (1773–1829) carried out major pioneering work in many different subjects. In 1800 he gave the Bakerian Lecture of the Royal Society on the topic of the “mechanism of the eye”: this was published in the following year (T. Young, 1801). Young used his own design of optometer to measure refraction and accommodation, and discovered his own astigmatism. He considered the different possible origins of accommodation and confirmed that it was due to change in shape of the lens rather than to change in shape of the cornea or an increase in axial length. However, the paper also dealt with many other aspects of visual and ophthalmic optics, such as biometric parameters, peripheral refraction, longitudinal chromatic aberration, depth-of-focus and instrument myopia. These aspects of the paper have previously received little attention. We now give detailed consideration to these and other less-familiar features of Young's work and conclude that his studies remain relevant to many of the topics which currently engage visual scientists.
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