Following the description of Saemisch (1870), authors of textbooks define ulcus serpens as a disk-shaped loss of substance in the superficial layers of the cornea, near the center, having a tendency to spread over the surface in one direction rather than to extend into the deeper layers, the process being associated with an exudate in the anterior chamber (hypopyon). To Axenfeld and Uhthoff (1896) belongs the credit of the discovery that the pneumococcus is the cause of the typical ulcus serpens.
Many cases of ulcus serpens are complicated by the presence of an infiltration of leukocytes separated from the ulcer by a less infiltrated tissue, the so-called posterior abscess, in the proximity of Descemet's membrane, while other cases show no infiltration whatever in this region. The manner of the formation of the posterior abscess is still a matter of dispute. One school, headed by Elschnig, holds to the view that
SAMUELS B. METHODS OF FORMATION OF THE POSTERIOR ABSCESS IN ULCUS SERPENS. Arch Ophthalmol. 1932;7(1):31–39. doi:10.1001/archopht.1932.00820080041003
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