Allvar Gullstrand, MD

  • Presented: 
  • Recognition: 
    ASCRS Ophthalmology Hall of Fame

Allvar Gullstrand, was entirely self-taught in the fields covering his most important work (geometric and physiological optics). The basis of the science he developed was laid in 1890 in his thesis Contribution to the Theory of Astigmatism). The complete proof of this theory is found in the following three subsequent works: General Theory of Monochromatic Aberrations and their Immediate Significance for Ophthalmology), 1900, The True Optical Image), 1906; and The Optical Image in Heterogeneous Media and the Dioptrics of the Human Crystalline Lens), 1908. The results are combined in the Handbook of Physiological Optics), by H. von Helmholtz, 1909.

As the holder of the Research Professorship in Physical and Physiological Optics, Gullstrand devoted himself mainly to calculations and methods for achieving a more suitable form of refracting surfaces in optical instruments, and to investigation of optical system laws of higher order.

Gullstrand’s theory of focal illumination, particularly by means of the slit lamp (1911), have acquired the greatest importance to the practical ophthalmologist. His reflex-free ophthalmoscope (1911) is also a valuable instrument to the ophthalmological diagnostician.

His great administrative ability found expression particularly in the Faculty of Medicine and the Council of Uppsala University and the Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Gullstrand was an honorary Doctor of Philosophy of the Universities of Uppsala, Jena and Dublin, and a member of a number of Swedish and foreign scientific societies. In 1911 he received the Nobel Prize for his work on the dioptrics of the eye. He was member of the Nobel Physics Committee of the Swedish Academy of Sciences (1911-1929), and its Chairman (1922-1929). In 1927 he was awarded the Graefe Medal of the Deutsche Ophthalmologische Gesellschaft.

Gullstrand was born in1862, at Landskrona, Sweden. In 1880 he went to Uppsala University, which he left in 1885, and spent a year in Vienna, afterwards continuing his medical studies at Stockholm where he graduated in medicine in 1888, presented his doctorate thesis in 1890, and was appointed Lecturer in Ophthalmology in 1891. After holding various appointments as Doctor and Lecturer and serving on the Swedish Medical Board, he was appointed the first Professor of Ophthalmology at Uppsala University in 1894. He occupied that post until 1913. From 1914 onwards, he held a Personal Professorship in Physical and Physiological Optics at Uppsala University. He was appointed Emeritus Professor in 1927.  Gullstrand died in Stockholm on July 28, 1930.