Wydanie 4/2011
str. 5

Historia prezbiopii – cz. I

The History of Presbyopia – Part I

Monika Gałecka1, Anna M. Ambroziak1, Piotr Skopiński1,2, Ewa Langwińska-Wośko1,Anna Bielecka1

1 Katedra i Klinika Okulistyki II Wydziału Lekarskiego Warszawskiego Uniwersytetu Medycznego
  Samodzielny Publiczny Kliniczny Szpital Okulistyczny w Warszawie
  Kierownik: prof. dr hab. n. med. Jerzy Szaflik
2 Katedra i Zakład Histologii i Embriologii Warszawskiego Uniwersytetu Medycznego
  Kierownik: prof. dr hab. n. med. Jacek Malejczyk

Summary: Presbyopia is undoubtedly as old as humanity itself. Aristotle referred to his fellow sufferers as “presbyters”, a Greek reference to old men. Cicero, Nepos, and Suetonius and many others also referred to that condition. The nature of vision has been the subject of much speculation since the earliest days of systematized knowledge. The Knowledge of visual physiology, particularly related to increased understanding of refractive errors and the history of spectacles development are inseparably connected. Reading glasses are used today by millions of people around the world and they make a huge difference to the lives of these people, who without them would be left in the dark when it comes to reading. The use of convex lenses for reading probably dates to the end of the first millennium, but other reading aids are much older. The invention of spectacles profoundly influenced progress in the arts and science, yet we do not know whom to thank for this invention. It was almost 1000 years ago when Ibn Sahl wrote „On Burning Mirrors and Lenses”, in which he puts forth for the very first time a precursor to the sine law of refraction. Legend, scholastic disputes, travellers' tales, local patriotism and downright fabrications have all encumbered the quest for knowledge on the early history of optics and glasses. Several names and places are associated with the supposed 'invention' of spectacles though the truth is they were probably invented anonymously and developed over a period of time. Travellers' tales have made China the original centre of glasses. However, in the western world, the invention of spectacles is believed to have occurred between 1268-1289 in Italy. During the next several hundred years, the manufacture of spectacles with convex lenses spread quickly among monks and monasteries and among the cultured, rich minority of Europe. Glasses began to have a vogue towards the middle of the 14th century; and painters and sculptors could not resist the temptation to endow famous people with these accessories. Glasses were even deemed necessary in the Garden of Eden. Public documents make references to them and wills dispose carefully of spectacles, for they were still a costly item. The invention of the printing press in 1452 and the growing availability of books prompted the mass production of inexpensive spectacles that were sold in cities by peddlers. Around that time spectacles became also an everyday item in Poland. Therefore they quickly grew into a prevailing subject of many art forms such as paintings and books. It is a reasonable assumption that the use of spectacles for presbyopia, by prolonging the active professional life of many intellectuals and artisans, contributed to these scientific, artistic, and social explosion of the Renaissance. By the 16th century, research on presbyopia, not to mention hyperopia and myopia, was well under way. In the 1520s, Francesco Maurólico, an Italian monk, proposed the existence of an accommodative mechanism. English physician Henry W. Pemberton may have been the first to use the term accommodation (in his dissertation of 1719), and he agreed with Maurólico that it resulted from changes in crystalline lens curvature. Unfortunately experiments proving that, however, would have to wait until the 19th century.

Słowa kluczowe: starczowzroczność, okulary, pomoce optyczne.

Keywords: presbyopia, spectacles, reading aids, accommodation.