The Use of Electrotherapeutics in Ophthalmology

Am J Ophthalmol. 2020 Mar:211:4-14. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2019.11.011. Epub 2019 Nov 15.


Purpose: To present a perspective on the use of electrotherapeutics in the history of ophthalmology along with the development of novel contemporary ophthalmic instrumentation.

Design: Perspective study.

Methods: We reviewed historical journals, articles, and books discussing the use of electricity and electrotherapeutics in ophthalmology.

Results: Electrotherapeutic applications have been researched and used to treat ocular diseases as far back as the 18th century. By the 20th century, research in electrotherapeutics in ophthalmology had caught the eye of Edward Jackson, the first president of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology and first editor of the present (third) series American Journal of Ophthalmology. Edward Jackson published an extensive review on this topic and reported a variety of modalities used to treat ocular diseases.

Conclusions: While many early therapeutic uses of electricity did not produce effective and replicable results, studies on electrical stimulation of the eye provided the foundation for the development of clinically significant vision enhancing and restoring instrumentation.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Portrait
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / history*
  • Eye Diseases / history*
  • Eye Diseases / therapy*
  • History, 15th Century
  • History, 16th Century
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • History, Ancient
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • Ophthalmology / history*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Visual Prosthesis / history