Cataract Surgery

Sushruta, a physician in ancient India (800-600 BC), described cataract as a disorder of the lens, and even performed minor surgery to remove the cloudy part. He is said to have been the first physician to have performed such a surgery, which is now known as ‘couching,’ and described the procedure in his book, Sushruta Samhita (Compendium of Sushruta). The procedure involved using a curved needle to push the opaque matter in the eye out of the way of vision; the opaque, phlegm-like matter was then blown out of the nose. The eye was later soaked with warm ghee and then bandaged. However, ‘couching’ was regarded by later physicians as a dangerous method as the slightest mistake could result damage to the cornea and possible blindness. The removal of cataract by surgery is to have been introduced to China from India, where it flourished in the Sui (AD 581-618) and Tang dynasties (AD 618–907).

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