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Looking Through a Cataract

Singh, Annapurna MDa; Krema, Hatem MDa; Singh, Arun D MDa

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Journal of Cataract & Refractive Surgery: January 2001 - Volume 27 - Issue 1 - p 12
doi: 10.1016/S0886-3350(00)00853-1
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The term cataract has evolved over centuries. Constantinus Africanus (1018–1085), a famous Carthaginian monk of the school of Salerno, translated into Latin an Arabic expression depicting cataract as a flowing down of water (nuzul-el-ma) as gutta pacta or cataracta.1,2 The Arabic terminology was derived from the Alexandrian word hypochyma or its Latin translation suffusio to describe the cataract.1,2

Along the river Nile, construction of dams has led to the formation of waterfalls, and these are called cataracts (Figure 1). 3 The photographs of a gorge in Watkins Glen State Park, New York, USA, illustrate the flowing down of water (cataract) and a view through the “cataract” (Figure 2).

Figure 1.
Figure 1.:
(Singh) A map of the Nile River depicting cataracts.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.:
(Singh) Photograph of a gorge in Watkins Glen State Park shows the flowing down of water (cataract) (left) and a view through the cataract (right).

Annapurna Singh MD

Hatem Krema MD

Arun D Singh MD

aPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, USA


1. Duke-Elder S. System of Ophthalmology, Vol XI: Diseases of the Lens and Vitreous; Glaucoma and Hypotony. St Louis, MO: CV Mosby Co, 1969; 5
2. Blodi F. Cataract surgery. In: Albert DM, Edwards DD, eds, The History of Ophthalmology. Cambridge, Blackwell Science, 1996; 165-166
3. Kreiger LS, Neill K, Reynolds E. World History: Perspectives on the Past, 5th ed. Lexington: DC Heath & Co, 1997; 55
© 2001 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.