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December 20, 1985

The History of Ophthalmology, vol 3: The Renaissance of Ophthalmology in the 18th Century, Part 1

Author Affiliations

Long Grove, III

JAMA. 1985;254(23):3376. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360230108042

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Hirschberg's 11-volume The History of Ophthalmology was at last published in English beginning in 1982, with a smooth-reading translation by Frederick Blodi, MD. Each volume is richly illustrated and written with an eye toward detail.

This volume deals with the rapid expansion of knowledge of techniques that occurred in the 18th century. The first half deals with ideas and methods such as the dispute over the nature of the cataract, cataract extraction procedures, and surgical procedures of the pupil. In the second half, the progress of ophthalmology is reviewed country by country.

Perhaps the most stimulating part of this book to the modern-day ophthalmologist is the review of the surgical techniques of cataract extraction. Long, direct quotes from the then-leading surgeons make for historical accuracy and exciting reading. These are placed side by side with superb illustrations.

Galen's teaching that an intraocular opacity lay anterior to the crystalline lens was