Ophthalmic Heritage & Museum of Vision

Cataract Surgery in Antiquity

Sanskrit manuscripts from the 5th century B.C. describe the earliest type of cataract surgery known as couching. In this procedure, the cataractous lens was displaced away from the pupil to lie in the vitreous cavity in the back of the eye. The displacement of the lens enabled the patient to see better. Vision, however, was still blurred due to the unavailability of corrective lenses.

Recent excavations in Iraq, Greece and Egypt have uncovered bronze instruments that would have been used for cataract surgery. In 29 A.D., the practice of needling or discission was noted in De Medicinae. This technique breaks up the cataract into smaller particles, thereby facilitating their absorption.
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