Illustrations of witchcraft-caused eye diseases from the 16th century

Posted by Steve Mower on 17th Jun 2016

There is a fascinating story about Georg Bartisch with some of his surreal illustrations at Dangerous Minds. Geor Bartisch dedicated his life to the study and treatment of the eye and its diseases.

Born in Königsbrück, Saxony in 1535, Bartisch was apprenticed to a barber surgeon at the age of thirteen. After three years training, he set off to ply his trade as an itinerant surgeon—carrying out operations, amputations, and diagnosing illness amongst the populace of Saxony, Silesia, and Bohemia.

Medicine at this time was still prone to a belief in the superstitious. Bartisch believed a patient could be diagnosed through their astrological chart or horoscope and that magic, astrology and indeed witchcraft itself played an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Though many of his ideas may seem strange to us now, Bartisch was a pioneer and his major contribution to ocular medicine was his compendium or “atlas” Ophthalmodouleia Das ist Augendienst published in 1583. It was the first book that detailed eye diseases and was responsible in establishing ophthalmology as a separate and distinct medical discipline.

Ophthalmodouleia Das ist Augendienst included sections on head and eye anatomy; strabismus; cataracts (which he classified by color—white, blue, gray, green, yellow, and black); external disease; trauma; and even witchcraft.

There is much more to this story and many fantastic illustrations with a link to Georg Bartisch’s Ophthalmodouleia which has been digitized.See the entire article here at Dangerous Minds

h/t Neatorama

.default .section { padding-top: 2rem; padding-bottom: 2rem; }