The Work Of An Eye Clinic
( Originally Published 1936 )
I sat today in the clinic of what I suppose every oculist would acknowledge to be the greatest hospital for eye diseases on earth—Moorfield's in London. Two things impressed me the most. First, that so many eye troubles can be helped by such simple means; second, that eye troubles so often are nothing more nor less than a local expression in the eyes of a general bodily disease.
Let us try to exemplify these ideas in the order named.
That most eye troubles are serious. And, in a way, I mean they are exaggerated.
It is natural to exaggerate them. Heaven knows, when your eyesight seems to fail you naturally worry. But here is an example:
A middle-aged man came in, led by his granddaughter. Both eyes were bandaged. He was fairly blubbering with fright and fear. He had wakened up that morning to find the sight in his right eye gone. He was blind in one eye, he kept repeating. He had promptly had both eyes bandaged and come to Moorfield's. He was sure the whole thing was due to some very potent gin he had consumed the night before.
EXAMINATION BRINGS SMILE
The doctor made a rapid examination and smiled. He put a drop of cocaine in the offending eyc and then removed a fair sized cinder.
The inflammation caused by the cinder had blinded the eye, and the gin had only played the role of an anesthetic it had covered up the pain of the cinder's entrance.
Other patients came and went. In general, the spectator gathered that their troubles were not nearly so serious as they thought. They were more cheerful as they left.
The attending oculists, who see thousands of these cases a year, showed us a most curious illustration.
The patient was a woman of thirty-five, plainly clothed, but neat and evidently educated. She had come to the hospital several weeks before, because of constant dimness of vision. Careful examination revealed very little. She wore glasses which were found to be correct. (How seldom will most eye-examiners admit that your glasses are correct.) The eye grounds and optic nerve showed no disease. The only thing noticed was that the pupils were large and did not contract to light. The natural suggestion was that she had been using atropine. But she denied the use of any drugs, until after careful questioning she said she had been using suppositories, which it was found contained atropine.
After discontinuing them, her eye troubles cleared up.