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On the Use of the Ophthalmoscope in Diseases of the Nervous System and of the Kidneys; also in certain other General Disorders

Nature volume 5, pages 34 | Download Citation



THE advances that have been made in the knowledge of the diseases of the eye since the introduction of the ophthalmoscope are now very widely known, not alone in the medical profession but to the general public. This little instrument, essentially consisting of a mirror with a hole in the centre by which a ray of light can be thrown into the interior of the eye, lighting up its recesses, and enabling, with the aid of a common hand lens, almost every portion of it to be explored, may be said to have revolutionised the surgery of the eye. Many separate and distinct types of disease have been distinguished in conditions that were formerly grouped together under the general term of amaurosis, and the ophthalmic surgeon, no longer administering, as was too often formerly the case, his remedies in rash ignorance, is now able either to infuse well-grounded hope of recovery, or to spare his patient the annoyance of protracted treatment when treatment would be hopeless. For nearly twenty years the use of the ophthalmoscope has been, as was natural, almost entirely restricted to those who devoted themselves to the study of ophthalmic diseases. Like other mechanical aids to diagnosis, as the stethoscope and laryngoscope, its employment requires practice, the opportunities for acquiring a mastery over it were till recently rare, and its value in the practice of medicine was by no means generally recognised. Within the last few years, however, several excellent surgeons and physicians, amongst whom Mr. Hutchinson, Dr. Hughlings Jackson, Dr. John Ogle, and the author of the treatise before us may be especially mentioned, have gradually begun to recognise that the ophthalmoscope may be made available not only to determine the nature of any defect of vision of which the patient may complain, but as a means of reading within certain limits changes in the conditions of the system at large, and of the nervous system in particular.

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