13th Century Arabic Ophthamology Manuscript Pages

We have a a plate of two pages from a thirteenth century ophthalmology maunscript in our History of Medicine Collection. It has been loaned to our collection by Emilie Savage-Smith, retired Professor of the History of Islamic Science.

It shows the instruments required by a thirteenth century ophthalmologist, as illustrated in The Sufficient Book on Ophthalmology, written in Syria between 1257 and 1275 by Khalifah ibn al-Mahasin as-Halabi.

The top row (right to left) illustrates three types of scissors, two tools for keeping eyelids open, a sheathed scalpel, various hooks, four cauterising tools, a probe, and small forceps. The middle row contains four instruments for excising cysts and other growths, a small hatchet for phlebotomy, a razor knife, two lancets, a round and hollow cataract needle, a narrow tube for uprooting tumours and a hook and needle. The bottom row includes additional forms of lancets and scrapers, along with tweezers for removing foreign bodies, and various tools for dispensing eye ointments.

Listen to Professor Jim Al-Khalili, theoretical physicist, author and broadcaster, talk about the history of Islamic Medicine here: