Editorial |

Is Medical History Still Relevant to Today's Ophthalmologist?

James G. Ravin, MD
Arch Ophthalmol. 2011;129(7):941-942. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2011.170.
Text Size: A A A
Published online


Is history “bunk,” as Henry Ford liked to say? Or is the comment frequently attributed to the philosopher George Santayana more appropriate: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”?2

Is the history of ophthalmology relevant to clinicians and researchers?3 Certainly one can practice ophthalmology or work in a laboratory without being familiar with the backgrounds of the many names we encounter daily. But without an idea of who they were or what they were trying to achieve, clearly something is missing. Consider the anatomical structures named for Descemet, Schlemm, and Bruch; the pathologic findings described by Fuchs, Soemmering, and Weiss; the surgical instruments devised by Stevens, Jameson, and Castroviejo; and the visual acuity charts of Snellen and Landolt. Who were these people and what were they trying to do? And what is really new in ophthalmology? Certainly, some innovations in fields such as genomics are unprecedented, but until recently almost any “new” description was greeted with the disarming question, “Have you searched through the old German literature before claiming your discovery? It was probably described there previously.”


Sign In to Access Full Content

Don't have Access?

Register and get free email Table of Contents alerts, saved searches, PowerPoint downloads, CME quizzes, and more

Subscribe for full-text access to content from 1998 forward and a host of useful features

Activate your current subscription (AMA members and current subscribers)

Purchase Online Access to this article for 24 hours

First Page Preview

View Large
First page PDF preview





Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).
Submit a Comment


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Sign In to Access Full Content

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.