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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 75-78

Light through the dark ages: The Arabist contribution to Western ophthalmology


1 ST1 Ophthalmology, West Midlands Deanery, Cardiff, United Kingdom
2 Consultant Ophthalmologist, MDA Clinic, Cardiff, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Imran Haq
Birmingham Midland Eye Centre, Dudley Road, B18 7QH
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0974-620X.99367

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Europe in the Middle Ages had descended into a dark period, and none more so than in the field of medicine. The rich heritage of the pagan Greeks had largely been ignored or forgotten by medieval Europe, and instead it was the early Arabist world that embraced and developed the Hellenistic medical teachings, emerging not only as guardians of the classical learning still existent, but also as pioneers and innovators, restricted only by the development in the associated fields. The Kahhal (), or Oculist or Eye Specialist, had a privileged place in royal households, especially during the Abbasid period, in contrast to the time of Galen, whose writings referred to ophthalmologists in a rather derogatory manner. This elevated standing in the medical profession allowed Arabist scholars to cultivate remarkably erudite techniques and exceptional texts, which were used until very recently.


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