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July 8, 1983

Oliver Wendell Holmes and His Cataracts

Author Affiliations

St Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center of New York

JAMA. 1983;250(2):165. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03340020017013

To the Editor.—  Dr A. Brenton Schiffer approximated well the comment by Holmes regarding his own cataract (1983;249:1152) when he quoted him as having said, "When I look into the microscope, I see my cataract looking back at me."A statement by Holmes about his eyes and age follows. Not long before he died, Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) wrote to his friend, Dr S. Weir Mitchell (1829-1914), the famous neurologist, neuropsychiatrist, and, like Holmes himself, popular writer of fiction and other works, a letter dated Oct 2, 1893. In it, he stated the following:I have been riding the high horse—let me get out of the saddle. My birthday found me very well in body and I think in mind. If I am in the twilight of dementia I have not found it out. I am only reasonably deaf; my two promising cataracts are so slow about their work that