Skip to Main Content

Have You Ever Wondered What A Phoropter Does?

This is a question we love getting: “What does that big, space helmet-looking thing actually do anyway?”

Most patients have wondered what that large, imposing piece of equipment is that they always see at the optometrist’s office. Well, it’s called a phoropter, or a refractor, and it’s an awesome tool we eye docs love to use! Read on to find out more!

A Brief History Of The Phoropter

The phoropter was invented in the early 1900s. One, called the Ski-optometer, was invented by Nathan Shigon and another, called the Phoro-optometer was developed by Henry DeZeng. Later came Bausch and Lomb’s Greens’ Refractor.

The phoropter was unique from the device that was previously being used, the monocular optometer, because the phoropter was able to measure refractive errors as well as traits of binocular vision (meaning how well the eyes work together), among other things.

In today’s world, as technology gets more and more advanced, usually devices get smaller and more streamlined. You may be surprised to hear that with almost every new model that came out, the phoropter kept getting bigger and bigger! Over time, the phoropter continued to improve until it became what it is today in the 1960s, still as big and bold as ever.

Phoropters Help Us Fine-tune Your Prescription

This may sound familiar… you walk into the optometrist’s office and after some initial tests and pleasantries, you’re asked to sit behind the “space helmet” and look at the eye chart through the phoropter lenses. As we change the lenses with different optical powers, we’ll ask you the question we know you all love to answer, “Which is more clear, one or two?”

Based on your answers, we come up with a prescription that gets you as close to seeing 20/20 as possible. The phoropter is an amazing tool that helps us fine-tune your prescription and make sure you have the clearest, most accurate vision possible!

Watch the video below to learn more about what perfect vision is and why glasses are necessary for some people!

Want To Hear More?

If you have been wondering about some of the other equipment you’ve seen at our office, let us know in the comments section of this blog post! We’d be happy to highlight another cool tool that helps us do our job: keeping your eyes healthy and your vision precise.

Helping you see the world clearly is the best job in the world!

Top image by 633rd Air Base Wing, Senior Airman Jason Brown used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
" "