Controversies in the history of glaucoma

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Abstract

There are several interesting controversies in the history of glaucoma. The first corresponds to the origin of its name. It was argued that the ancient Greek word glaukos meant: 1. ‘‘to glow’’ or ‘‘to shine’’; 2. ‘‘blue-white’’ or ‘‘blue-green’’; 3. dull sheen or [bdquo]glaze” of blindness; 4. owl: ‘‘glaucomati’’ meaning ‘‘having the eyes of an owl’’; 5. a mortal fisherman who was transformed into a sea-god after eating a magical herb. The second controversy corresponds to the meaning of the word glaucoma. Several ancient authors, including Celsus, Roufos of Ephesus and Galen, described glaucoma as a disease of the crystalline, which was transformed to glaucos because of moisture. This understanding was continued in the 18th century by Banister, Platner and Boerhaave, who argued that glaucoma was a malignant form of cataract that begins with acute pain and terminates in amaurosis. The third controversy corresponds to the different concepts of glaucoma etiology in the 19th century, including gouty iritis, serous choroiditis, thickening of the sclera, irritation of the secretory nerves of the eye, a disease of the vitreous, and [bdquo]secretory neurosis” (the primary cause of is the rise in pressure).

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