The History of Retinal Detachment Surgery

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Kourous A. REzaEi, Gary W. Abrams

The history of retinal detachment surgery is one of the great success stories in the history of medicine. The first descriptions of retinal detachment were by Ware in 1805, Wardrop in 1818, and Panizza in 1826 [1-3]. These descriptions relied mainly on pathological observations. The introduction of the ophthalmoscope by

Gonin Retina
Fig. 1.1. Jules Gonin. (Reproduced with permission; Wilkinson CP, Rice TA (1997) Michels retinal detachment, 2nd edn. Mosby St. Louis MO. pp 241-333 [10])

Helmholz in 1850 made an accurate and reliable clinical diagnosis possible [4]. Coccius in 1853 followed by von Graefe in 1854, who also portrayed the course of retinal detachment, observed the first retinal tear [5,6]. The history of retinal detachment surgery can be divided into pre- (before 1920) and post-Jules Gonin's era (after

In 1920, Gonin reported the first successful treatment of retinal detachment by sealing the retinal break to the underlying retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and the choroid (Fig. 1.1) [7,8]. During and after the time of Gonin's contributions, many surgeons contributed to the advancement and success of retinal surgery. Prior to this time, however, there was little or no successful treatment for retinal detachment but a large number of treatments were proposed and are mentioned here for historical interest. Some of this work has been adapted from the great historical collection of Duke Elder's System of Ophthalmology and from Michels' Retinal Detachment [9,10].

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