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First description of aniseikonia
  1. G Westheimer
  1. Correspondence to: Professor G Westheimer Division of Neurobiology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3200, USA; gwestheimer{at}

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The first mention of inequality of retinal image size has been traced back from 1864 to 1669

The clinical syndrome of aniseikonia, where the retinal images differ in size in the right and left eyes, was prominent during the middle of the last century. Precise methods were developed for its measurement, sophisticated optical devices were designed for its correction and the topic gave a substantial impetus to the analysis of the geometry of visual space.

The history of aniseikonia is covered in his usual thorough and scholarly manner by Duke-Elder.1 Ophthalmologists had wrestled with the problem in the late 19th century, but according to Duke-Elder, its first treatment was by Donders2 in his seminal On the anomalies of accommodation and refraction of the eye published in 1864. In connection with the difficulties experienced by patients on the first correction of anisometropia, Donders wrote:

The cause of this is principally that when the distance of distinct vision is made equal, the image of …

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  • i The passage in question is not in the original 1674 edition to which I was kindly given access by the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. It must, therefore, have been inserted some time before the 6th and final edition, on which the English translation is based

  • Competing interests: None.