Blindness of the Newly Born


    EVERYONE who is interested in the welfare of the young, especially those who are interested in the prevention of blindness or impaired sight in the newly born or very young, should read the monograph entitled “Ophthalmia Neonatorum”, by Prof. Arnold Sorsby (Institute of Ophthalmology Monographs No. 1. Pp. 1-66. London: Hamish Hamilton Medical Books, Ltd., 1945.) A note on his views on the world-distribution and causes of blindness in young and old alike has already been published in Nature (153, 383 ; 1944), and Prof. Sorsby has since supplemented them by a striking article on blindness in the British Commonwealth (Brit. Med. J., 557, Oct. 27 ; 1945). In the present monograph he summarizes existing knowledge on one aspect of the general problem of blindness and impaired sight, but it is an aspect which is of very great importance. If his monograph suggests that impaired vision and blindness due to ophthalmia in the newly born is, as Sir Allen Daley says in his foreword, “well on the way to extinction”, it also suggests that ophthalmia of the newly born is possibly “no less frequent to-day than it was 25 or 40 years ago”. The statistics published in the monograph certainly leave no cause for complacency, although the results of compulsory notification and treatment, notably treatment with sulphonamides and penicillin, have been so remarkably good. The use of penicillin in ophthalmology is discussed in a leading article in the British Medical Journal (17, Jan. 5 ; 1946). Sir Allen Daley says that no preventable case of blindness should occur, and those who are familiar with recent developments in ophthalmology will agree that vigorous efforts are being made to attain this ideal.

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    Blindness of the Newly Born. Nature 157, 475 (1946) doi:10.1038/157475c0

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