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May 21, 1938

Current Comment

JAMA. 1938;110(21):1756-1757. doi:10.1001/jama.1938.02790210036015

HEREDITY AND OPHTHALMOLOGY  The island of Tasmania, with an area of 26,215 square miles and a population of 227,599, seemed to offer suitable conditions for a study of heredity in ophthalmic disease. Although its population is made up principally of peoples of purely British origin, the investigation, according to Hamilton,1 was extremely difficult because of the reticence of many residents about their antecedents and because of the sparse and scattered nature of most of the settlements. Of 4,880 patients with eye disease seen by him in private practice during the previous five years 119, or roughly two and one-half in every hundred, proved to have authentically hereditary disease. The diseases observed in these patients, as well as in those seen in hospital practice, represented a variety of conditions and were associated in many instances with a number of hereditary abnormalities of the nervous system, such as amaurotic family idiocy,