Hollow needle cataract aspiration in antiquity.Acta Ophthalmol. 2015 Dec; 93(8):782-4.AO
The dislocation of the crystalline lens or couching technique was the predominant procedure to surgically remove cataracts until the 18th century A.D. However, in the Middle Ages, some Arab physicians tried to aspirate the opaque lens by means of a glass tube following a paracentesis. Some literary sources attributed the origins of this technique to Antyllus of Alexandria, a Greek surgeon who lived in the 2nd century A.D. in the Roman Empire. Nevertheless, this statement remains unclear and is probably the consequence of posterior interpretations or incorrect translations of the manuscripts. In recent years, the discovery of the hollow needles from Montbellet (France) and Viladamat (Spain), in archaeological settlements dated between the 1st century and 3rd century A.D., has reopened the possibility of cataract extraction as an option in the surgical management of soft cataracts in the antiquity. In any case, these findings are exceptional, and thus, probably this technique was not widely practised and very likely disparaged by the medical community.