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March 1957

Ophthalmology During the Middle Ages

Author Affiliations

New York
Department of Chemistry, Mount Sinai Hospital.

AMA Arch Ophthalmol. 1957;57(3):366-375. doi:10.1001/archopht.1957.00930050378008

Like all other branches of medicine, ophthalmology has made such fantastic strides during the last 100 years that the preceding millennia appear to us telescoped into a jumble of ignorance, incompetence, and superstition. The Renaissance prepared the European spirit for the subsequent blossoming of modern fundamental science during the golden age of science, the 17th and 18th centuries, which, in turn, led to the phenomenal development of the applied sciences since 1800. A closer scrutiny of the earlier state of science and of medicine, in particular before 1500, permits us, however, to discern that our subject during the Dark Ages had its ups and downs, its progresses and its regressions. Let us see what lessons may be drawn from history!

What are the sources of medieval ophthalmology? Medical books and manuscripts, letters and reports, and numerous legal and other documents relating to the practice of ophthalmology. During the middle ages,

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