For a lot of people, the sense of sight is the most important of all the senses. In fact, a survey has proven that the majority of people consider losing their vision as one of the things that they are most afraid to lose. It is no surprise therefore that cataract surgery is one of the oldest surgical procedures ever done. The first recorded case of cataract surgery dates back to the fifth century BC. However, artifacts from ancient Egypt and other places have shown that various ancient civilizations have performed their own cataract surgery.
Ancient Cataract Procedures
Ancient artifacts found on the tomb of King Khasekhemwy, dating back to 2700 BC, prove that the ancient Egyptians operated on the cataract at that time. These artifacts are implements for needling, a type of surgery that makes use of needle knife to puncture the edge of the cornea and to move the opaque lens to behind the iris. This way, the eye will have nothing but the pupil which allows for clear, although unfocused, vision. This technique was very important for the Egyptians since although their vision is unfocused, they can see enough to continue with their works in the fields.
Similarly in Japan around 2000 BC, a similar procedure was done on the eye with cataract problems. The Japanese also used sharp needle knives to puncture the eyes. However, they did not stop there. They also had very fine tubes that were used to suck the cataract. Interestingly, the tubes are made of gold.
Medieval Europe Cataract Surgery
Then, during 1200 BC ancient cataract surgery involves a technique called couching. Couching is done by sticking the eye with a blunt object so that the zonules of the eye would break thereby allowing limited vision. The person achieves limited vision because once the zonules are broken the lens would be dislocated. The procedure is therefore done only on eyes that have already become totally opaque and heavy. Once the eye is totally opaque, it is not relatively hard so it is now possible to break the zonules and dislocate the lens without causing injury to the eye.
Paintings in Thebes during that time, as well as books and hieroglyphics show and discussed how the ‘couching’ techniques were performed. From 1200 BC it became the standard procedure for cataracts. The Book of Tobit, written in 612 BC, even has a description of a person performing the surgery to himself.
Over the years, the couching procedure was “perfected” so that instead of a blunt object, doctors then used a sharp object instead in breaking the zonules and in dislocating the eye. Nevertheless, the people at that time were not familiar with the anatomy of the eye and about how to prevent infection so the surgery was at that time particularly dangerous. Nevertheless, these procedures eventually evolved into the cataract surgery we have today.
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Houston LASIK & Eye leads in providing premium LASIK technologies to Houston, Sugar Land, and the surrounding region. The Center’s award-winning medical director introduced revolutionary technologies such as iLASIK to the region. This technology is used by NASA astronauts, Navy SEALS and Air Force fighter pilots. At Houston LASIK & Eye, you can now receive the same treatment. For more information, please call (281) 240-0478 or visit us at www.houston-lasik.com.
About the Author
Amjad Khokhar, M.D. is Chief LASIK Surgeon at Houston LASIK & Eye. Add Dr. Khokhar on Google+ here. :