Aspiration of cataract in 1815 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Christopher T. Leffler, Charles E. Letocha, Kasey Pierson, Stephen G. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We present and discuss the previously unrecognized evidence for the possible introduction of cataract extraction by aspiration into modern Western medicine on March 26, 1815, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by surgeon Philip Syng Physick. On this date, he successfully extracted a cataract by suction through a tube, according to newspaper reports written by the patient, an attorney who sought a patent on the suction device. Aspects of the patient's account are confirmed by supporting evidence from the medical community and by a cataract instrument set attributed to Physick, which includes a cannula attached to a syringe. The evidence suggests that Physick was the first to reintroduce cataract aspiration to Western medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-7
Number of pages4
JournalDigital journal of ophthalmology : DJO
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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