On the 28th of April, 1812, Georg Joseph Beer (1763-1821) began his lectures on diseases of the eye at the Algemeine Krankenhaus of the University in Vienna. Following an imperial order in December 1812, 2 rooms with 8 beds each were added for bedside instruction. By 1818, the Department of Ophthalmology became an autonomous part of the medical faculty, and Beer a full professor. Students were obliged to take 5 hours of instruction over 2 semesters. Degrees were granted to those who passed the examination in theoretical and practical ophthalmology and who successfully performed one cataract operation.
Viennese medicine was becoming famous for its leadership and Beer′s reputation soon attracted students from around the world. In 1814, for instance, there were 199 students, including 104 foreigners, several of whom then began formal instruction in ophthalmology at their universities back home. George Frick of Baltimore, called a “Father of American Ophthalmology,” by some, attended the University in Vienna in 1817.