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Special Communication
July 2013

Jacques Guillemeau’s 16th-Century Account of Ophthalmoplegia

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Modern Philology, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain
  • 2Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Physiology, and Genetics, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2013;131(7):933-936. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2013.596

In 1585, the renowned French royal surgeon Jacques Guillemeau published his Traité des maladies de l’oeil. The book is divided into 9 unequal sections devoted to the description of eye anatomy and ophthalmological diseases including muscle, membrane, and humor disorders; optic nerve damage; and eyelid affections. Section 3, in particular, focuses on a form of ophthalmoplegia involving progressive paralysis of extraocular muscles. Here we describe and discuss Guillemeau’s theoretical framework and practical approach to this ophthalmological disorder. To determine whether this physician was possibly influenced by the thought of antique and contemporary learned men, we reviewed some fundamental ideas on cranial nerves and their paralysis as presented by authors such as Herophilus of Chalcedon, Erasistratus of Ceos, Claudius Galen, Andreas Vesalius, and Leonhard Fuchs.