97th DOG Annual Meeting 1999



M. Wenzel

Glaucoma was described by Hippocrates as a cloudy blue (colour of the sea) pupil. Since the first century "glaucoma" was described as clouding of the lens and "hypochyma" (today cataract) a membrane in front of the lens. Glaucoma, clouding of the lens, was said to be incurable and hypochyma (cataract) could be treated by surgery. Beginning from the 8th century, the adjective "starblind" was introduced in the German language in order to describe blind persons suffering from cataract. In the 16th century, M. Luther created the word "star" to describe any type of blindness, but ophthalmologists used the word "star" only to describe cataracts. They distinguished the cataracts using different colours. G. Bartisch described 1583 a "green star', the"cataracta viridans". During the 17th and 18th centuries, ophthalmologists slowly learned, that cataract is not a membrane in front of the lens, but the lens itself. So, the word "glaucoma" was used to describe many other sicknesses of the eye. From the end of the 18th century on, the colour of the pupil was not longer translated as "blue", but from more often as "green'. G. J. Beer (1799) described that glaucoma may lead to a "green star" or "cataracta viridans". In the middle of the 19th century, all authors accepted that only a high intraocular pressure should be named "glauconid". In German ophthalinology, there existed only "star" (cataract) and "glaucoma". It was a step backwards when E. Fuchs wrote in his textbook at the end of the 19th century "Green star is glaucoma". This was not accepted by most of the other authors in the beginning of our century and still in 1970, there were some text-books, that described "star" only as "cataract" without mentioning any "green star".

Augenklinik RWTH, Pauwelsstr., D-52057 Aachen