Georg Bartisch’s Ophthalmodouleia (1583)


Images from Ophthalmodouleia: Das ist, Augendienst, the first Renaissance manuscript on ophthalmic disorders and eye surgery, published in 1583 by German physician Georg Bartisch (1535–1607), considered by many to be the “father of modern ophthalmology”. The work contains a total of 92 woodcuts each depicting diseases of the eye – some using an overlay technique enabling the reader to “dissect” parts of the head or eye by lifting up a series of flaps. Accompanying the images is a detailed discussion of ocular diseases, surgical techniques, and instruments used, all written in Bartisch’s native German rather than Latin, a highly unusual move for the time. Depsite his scientific calling, Bartisch was a superstitious man, believing that astrology, magic, and witchcraft played a significant part in the causes of disease (indeed, the fourth picture shown in the selection below depicts a “disease of the eye caused by witchcraft”).

Housed at: Wellcome Library
Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights
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