William Beecher, a jewelry store owner in Southbridge, Massachusetts began producing the first steel and gold spectacles in America around 1843. Two years later, an industrious and creative young man named George Wells obtained work in Beecher’s optical shop and quickly became an asset. By 1869 Beecher, Wells, and Associates formed the American Optical Company (AO). This began a long line of notable developments including the introduction of rimless spectacles, adoption of the dioptric system of lens power, manufacture of toric lenses, and the acceptance of AO’s system of lens power by the U.S. Bureau of Standards. The introduction of the Lensometer® in 1921 provided the first practical means to measure spectacle power. AO also introduced the Ophthalmoscope, the additive Power Phoroptor®, the Project-O-Chart, and the Laser Photocoagulator.
In 1935 AO purchased the Buffalo, NY based Spencer Lens Company, a manufacturer of world-class microscopes. During WWII, AO manufactured gun sights, periscopes, and binoculars for the war effort and provided millions of pairs of prescription eyeglasses to the military. By 1950 AO had relocated all ophthalmic instrument manufacturing to Buffalo. Over the next 50 years AO ownership changed and the Reichert name was introduced in 1980 through a merger with a German keratome blade manufacturer, Reichert-Jung. The company operated as AO-Reichert Scientific until simply becoming known as Reichert in the 1990s.
By this time Reichert had become legendary for the Non-Contact Tonometer (NCT), developed by AO Engineer Dr. Bernie Grolman, during the 1960s and introduced in 1972. At that time optometrists were not permitted to administer topical anesthetic or touch the eye, so they could not perform Goldmann tonometry. The NCT provided a solution and became an immediate success. Over the next 4 decades Reichert established itself as the World Leader in Tonometry, continually innovating the NCT line as well as expanding its offering through acquisitions such as the Tono-Pen® and the Model 30™ Pneumatonometer. In the early 2000’s, using his vastly improved NCT technology, Reichert’s Chief Scientist, David Luce, PhD, pioneered the measurement of Corneal Hysteresis (CH) and developed the Ocular Response Analyzer – the world’s first device able to measure corneal biomechanical properties. This new device created a revolution in ocular biomechanics, resulting in over 700 peer-reviewed publications to date about the technology. The CH measurement is now recognized as important information for glaucoma risk assessment and improved accuracy of IOP measurements and has Medicare reimbursement in much of the USA.
As of 2011, Reichert Technologies, became part of the Ultra Precision Technologies Division of AMETEK, Inc., a U.S. company and leading global manufacturer of electronic instruments and electro-mechanical devices. Our vision at Reichert is to lead the ophthalmic industry by providing the highest quality, most innovative instruments to the eye care community. In keeping with tradition Reichert will continue to manufacture the bulk of their instruments in Buffalo, NY, ensuring high quality, providing jobs to the local community, and benefiting the U.S. economy. By continuing to innovate on traditional instruments, as exemplified by the Phoroptor VRx automated digital refractor, and offering cutting-edge diagnostic instruments like the Ocular Response Analyzer G3, Reichert will remain a primary source for eye care practitioners around the world.