Ophthalmodouleia by Georg Bartisch - c. 1583
Illustration from Ophthalmodouleia by Bartisch, George - c. 1583
This Greek word means 'the service of the eyes', literally 'eye-service', although it can also be translated as 'when the eye is upon you', as in Ephesians 6:6 when it is usually read in the sense of 'under observation'.
Oφθαλμοδουλεια is an important work for several reasons. At a time when most scholarly works were still written in Latin, and the lingua franca of scholars all over Europe, rather than the vernacular, it was written and published in the author’s native German. The work was printed in 1583 by Matthes Stockel of Dresden at Bartisch’s own expense. It was the first systematic work in ocular disease being logically arranged, beginning with the anatomy of the head and eye and progressing to more specific treatments for strabismus, cataracts (distinguishing between the six different types), trachoma, external growths on the lids, injuries and foreign bodies. It is extremely well illustrated, containing 91 full page wood cuts, produced by Hans Hewamaul but thought to be based on Bartisch’s own watercolours. The illustrations cover eye defects, surgical instruments and methods of curing diseases and injuries of the eye. They are very detailed and in several cases use an overlay technique which enables the reader to 'dissect' parts of the head or eye by lifting up successive flaps. The book was intended for the information of both laymen and surgeons and as Daniel M Albert has suggested, its very completeness documents George Bartisch’s right to be styled 'the founder of modern ophthalmology'. - College of Optometrists
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