• Historical Excerpts and Quotations Corner

    Our history editors compile quotes and wisdom from medicine’s long history. Send your favorite timeless pearls on ophthalmology to scope@aao.org.

    1. "One should treat as many patients as possible with a new drug, while it still has the power to heal."

    Most famously attributed to William Osler, 1901.

    2. "Amaurosis arthritica (glaucomatosa) in a 68-year-old woman who had the process for one half a year."

    Amaurosis arthritica (glaucomatosa) in a 68-year-old woman who had the process for one half a year. "The diseased optic nerve is light yellow, green color and swollen (bulged forward, elevated, domed, convex). The blood vessels show through this swelling with a dark reddish hue. In the retina, the vessels are very distended and more apparent. This is especially true of the veins, which are a very dark blue, cherry red color. In the limited area around the optic nerve they have an intense bright yellow color. See o. These flecks are the residual of extravasated blood."

    Eduard Jaeger, Ueber Staar und Staaroperationen, 1854.

    This is the first published illustration of a glaucomatous optic nerve head with a description. The misconception of a swollen, bulged forward, elevated, domed or convex optic nerve head was soon corrected to a depression by Adolf Weber, using a variety of lenses and observing parallax.

    3. Aphorism
    "Heed the teaching
    Recline the cataract before all vision is lost
    The cataract should be white
    Then you will receive money, praise, honor and reward..."

    Caspar Stromayr, cataract and hernia surgeon, Practica Copiosa, 1559.

    Pre-operative caution was advised in an era when posterior segment status was unknown and ocular phthisis, sepsis and even death all too commonly resulted after couching a cataract.