World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0007252098
Reproduction Date:

Title: Ophthalmia  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Edward L. Youmans, Ophthalmic, John Dennison Russ, Thorn in the flesh, Edward Rushton
Collection: Inflammations
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Ophthalmia (also called ophthalmitis) is inflammation of the eye. It is a medical sign which may be indicative of various conditions, including sympathetic ophthalmia (inflammation of both eyes following trauma to one eye), gonococcal ophthalmia, trachoma or "Egyptian" ophthalmia, ophthalmia neonatorum (a conjunctivitis of the newborn due to either of the two previous pathogens), photophthalmia and actinic conjunctivitis (inflammation resulting from prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays), and others.

Noted historical sufferers

  • Aristodemus, a Spartan captain during the Second Persian invasion of Greece, was afflicted with ophthalmia and was thus unable to fight at the Battle of Thermopylae (of the famous Spartan 300.) However, he fought bravely and died at the Battle of Plataea. Due to the ophthalmia, and his absence from the first battle, he was not buried with proper funeral rights of a Spartan Captain.[1]
  • Cicero, on the 1st of March 49BCE wrote to Atticus that he was suffering from ophthalmia [2]
  • Eratosthenes, who among other things was a Greek geographer and mathematician, contracted ophthalmia as he aged, becoming blind around 195 BC, depressing him and causing him to voluntarily starve himself to death. He died in 194 BC at the age of 82.[3]
  • Hannibal's sight was lost in his right eye in 217 B.C. by what was likely ophthalmia. He lost the sight while crossing a swamp area on a four-day march through water early in his Italian campaign.
  • King John of Bohemia, who died in battle in 1346 at age 50 after being blind for a decade, lost his sight to this general condition.
  • Christopher Columbus suffered ophthalmitis late in his life. Ophthalmitis was a common disease of sailors, possibly related to scurvy or poor nutrition. In the book "Negro Builders and Heroes" by Benjamin Brawley, in the chapter entitled "The Wake of the Slave-Ship", is a description of this condition afflicting, on slave ships, sometimes the whole crew and captive slaves.
  • Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female physician in the United States, lost an eye from purulent ophthalmia contracted from an infant with an eye infection, while working in Paris at La Maternité (1849), and after loss of the eye could no longer be a surgeon.
  • The Spanish composer and guitar virtuoso Francisco Tárrega also suffered from ophthalmia and seriously impaired sight after a traumatic childhood event (1850s).
  • Richard Henry Dana, Jr., author of the American classic, Two Years Before the Mast (1840), developed "a weakness of the eyes" after contracting measles while a junior at Harvard College. In an attempt to cure his condition, he undertook a two-year sailing voyage to California from Boston via Cape Horn, which provided the experiences for his memoir. The cure worked.
  • Edward Rushton, 18th Century blind poet and slavery abolitionist, who founded the first blind school in the UK in 1776. He is believed to have caught ophthalmia while compassionately feeding slaves who had been isolated for it. [5]


  1. ^ Mackenzie, C. (2010). Marathon & salamis. (p. 146). Yardley, PA: Westholme Publishing.
  2. ^ Letters to Atticus VIII.I3.
  3. ^ Bailey, Ellen. "Eratosthenes of Cyrene." Eratosthenes Of Cyrene (January 2006): 1–3.
  4. ^ J. W. McGarvey and P. Y. Pendleton, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians, and Romans (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, n.d.) 236.
  5. ^ Kathleen Hawkins, BBC News Blog
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.