As early as 1896, de Schweinitz,1 in his classic work on the toxic amblyopias, commented on the action of strychnine, amyl nitrite and nitroglycerin on amblyopia arising from the use of tobacco. He shrewdly remarked that strychnine, when administered during the inflammatory stage of a lesion of nerve tissue, e. g., ordinary peripheral neuritis, usually aggravates the disorder but is beneficial in axial optic neuritis caused by tobacco poisoning. He suggested that this might be a therapeutic test proving that vascular change and not inflammation is the early underlying pathologic process in the optic nerve in simple tobacco amblyopia.
Somewhat later, Parsons,2 after making a careful study of the pathologic changes in the toxic amblyopias, reviewed the various hypotheses of the action of tobacco or nicotine on the retinal cells and synapses and discarded Fisher's theory that such action directly affects the cells. He cited Holden's3
CORDES FC, HARRINGTON DO. TOXIC AMBLYOPIA DUE TO TOBACCO AND ALCOHOLTREATMENT WITH VASODILATORS ; A REPORT OF EIGHT CASES. Arch Ophthalmol. 1935;13(3):435–444. doi:10.1001/archopht.1935.00840030129008