Charles Prentice's father, James, studied optometry in London as an apprentice and moved to New York in 1847 to open his own optical shop. He became renowned for his manufacturing of optical instruments and creating the anatomical eye glass. As there were no adequate schools in the United States, James Prentice sent Charles to Europe to be educated in physics, engineering, mathematics and optometry.
Charles Prentice surpassed his father with acclaim and recognition throughout the world. He wrote what is now a classic essay entitled Ophthalmic Lenses. This book, however, was just the beginning of his writings and scientific discoveries. In 1910, Prentice assisted Columbia University in beginning a two-year optometry course. Now American students would not have to travel to Europe, as he had, to study optometry.
Charles Prentice helped standardize the optical field for the sake of patients' care, as well as, revamping the way the general public viewed eyeglasses. Prentice was the first optometrist to charge patients for his services. This act lead to the recognition of optometry as a profession and numerous government laws guiding and shaping the field. Prentice was one of the founding members and president of the Optical Society of the State of New York.