Taken from the Optical Journal-Review, June 15, 1933


The little Southbridge group - led by George W. Wells - had gone a long way during the half century since William Beecher. But the making of ophthalmic lenses had been a crude, unprofessional art.

The first AO lenses were finished January 18, 1884, after years of research, and many months of actual preparation. Yet the entire equipment had to be promptly scrapped. Exacting standards had not been fully met - AO leaders were not entirely satisfied. This uncompromising attitude toward perfection has motivated AO in the development of lenses, instruments, and equipment since that date.

The first two forms of lenses - the Biconvex and the Biconcave - embraced the sole range of corrective optical service up to that time. The method of lens measurement was by a number on each, indicating its focal length in inches. Forty years ago AO scientists adopted the “Dioptric System” of designating AO lenses - a measuring system which has greatly facilitated modern refraction. Simultaneously, AO began the manufacture of Cylinder and Compound lenses. Thus the benefit of the discovery of astigmatism by Sir Thomas Young (1801) and the lenses first made by George Airy in 1827 were now to be available to all mankind.

By this time, there was some improvement, also in the appearance of lenses. They had been growing somewhat larger. At the end of ten years of manufacturing, American Optical Company had first, systematized and greatly expanded the manufacture of lenses; second, had added lenses for the correction of astigmatism, and third had improved the appearance of lenses.

The century’s turn brought another great development toward better vision, i.e., the toric lens. This differed from the flat lens in that its surfaces were curved in conformity with the curve of the eye. This also was a step forward in accuracy.

Here, again, the manufacturing procedure for toric lenses developed by American Optical Company speedily made these better lenses available at prices the public could well afford, and in due time they replaced the old-fashioned flat type.

By 1885, the Opifex bifocal was developed, and later, the Perfection Bifocal - each a step forward in the American Century of Optical Progress.

And then on to more recent accomplishments in single vision and bifocal lenses as described on other pages - Tillyer Lenses, Cruxite Lenses - plus the direct distribution of ophthalmic lenses; in other words, direct factory branches for the service of the optical professions.

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