February 1997

Augendienst (Ophthalmodouleia or The Service of the Eyes)

Author Affiliations

Iowa City, Iowa


by Georg Bartisch, translated by Donald Blanchard, MD, vol 3 of a series entitled Hirschberg History of Ophthalmology: The Monographs, $450, 612 pp, with illus, Ostend, Belgium, J. P. Wayenborgh Press, 1996.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1997;115(2):296. doi:10.1001/archopht.1997.01100150298039

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Georg Bartisch (1535-1606) was apprenticed to a barber surgeon as a 13-year-old boy. He took a particular interest in diseases of the eye and over the years made himself into a specialist. In his 40s Bartisch put his special knowledge into this book, apparently doing the illustrations himself, and in 1583, it was printed for him by Matthes Stöckel of Dresden. His book was widely read by physicians and students, and its very existence suggested that it might be possible to make a career out of "the service of the eyes." In 1588, at the age of 53, Bartisch was appointed court oculist to the Elector of Saxony, an important position for someone who had started out as an unlettered barber surgeon.

Bartisch based his method of eye care on an effort to understand the anatomy, physiology, and optics of the eye. His anatomical plates are famous for flaps that

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