Amazing origins of cataract surgery 37

cataract surgery in ancient times


Did you know that cataract removal surgery was documented in Sanskrit manuscripts as early as 5th century BC by the ancient Indian surgeon Shusruta.

The first form of a cataract operation performed was known as “couching” which involved using a curved needle (ouch!) to forcefully push the cataractous lens away from the pupil, into the vitreous gel towards the rear of the eye.

Some other ancient techniques did not involve removing the cataracts but to simply slit the eye so that the cataract could be dragged down. The patient would sometimes expel it through the nasal cavity! Imagine blowing a cataract through your nose!

Later on, Muslim ophthalmologist Ammar ibn Ali developed the first syringe and sucked the cataracts out of the eyes.

Archeological diggings in places such as Iran, Greece, Rome, and Egypt have uncovered the utensils that numerous ancient doctors would have used when performing cataract surgeries.

However with all these ancient techniques images were still blurry for the patient until glasses were developed. But at least they could see (ie see shapes and colours etc) better than when they had the cataracts.

It’s amazing that these operations were done with basic instruments, highly inaccurate knowledge of the anatomical position and what the natural lens actually does.

Can you just imagine the pain these patients must have been in without any anaesthetic!?


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