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The first cataract surgeons in Latin America: 1611–1830

Authors Leffler CT, Wainsztein R

Received 4 February 2016

Accepted for publication 17 February 2016

Published 15 April 2016 Volume 2016:10 Pages 679—694

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/OPTH.S105825

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Gokcen Gökçe

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser


Christopher T Leffler,1 Ricardo D Wainsztein2

1Department of Ophthalmology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA; 2Instituto de la Visión, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Abstract: We strove to identify the earliest cataract surgeons in Latin America. Probably by 1611, the Genovese oculist Francisco Drago was couching cataracts in Mexico City. The surgeon Melchor Vásquez de Valenzuela probably performed cataract couching in Lima by 1697. Juan Peré of France demonstrated cataract couching in Veracruz and Mexico City between 1779 and 1784. Juan Ablanedo of Spain performed couching in Veracruz in 1791. Cataract extraction might have been performed in Havana and Caracas by 1793 and in Mexico by 1797. The earliest contemporaneously documented cataract extractions in Latin America were performed in Guatemala City by Narciso Esparragosa in 1797. In addition to Esparragosa, surgeons born in the New World who established the academic teaching of cataract surgery included José Miguel Muñoz in Mexico and José María Vargas in Caracas. Although cataract surgery came quite early to Latin America, its availability was initially inconsistent and limited.

Keywords: cataract surgery, couching, history of medicine

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