George A. Bethune -- By: Anonymous
BSac 12:46 (April 1855) p. 385
George A. Bethune
That disease of the eyes, which we regard as the great scourge of literary men, is known among physicians as the Morbid Sensibility of the Retina. This term gives but an imperfect idea of the disease, as the most annoying sensations are felt in parts of the body which have only sympathetic relations with the retina, an organ which, as is well known, forms a part of the vital machinery of vision, and which, probably, has no capacity for sensation other than that concerned in sight.1
This disease, in fact, consists of an over sensitiveness of the general nervous system of the eye, with its appendages and its neighborhood, especially of that part on, behind, and above its surface, and that of the living membrane of the lids. The uneasy or painful sensations are, it is true, produced by the exposure of the retina to the light in the discharge of its duty; at least, this is the ordinary succession of events, though the painful sensations are sometimes present when the organ is wholly at rest; but the sensations themselves are not in the retina, but in other parts. We wish to insist a little on this point, as connected with means for warding off attacks of disease.
BSac 12:46 (April 1855) p. 386
There is, also, occasionally, in addition, a blur or failure of distinct vision, floating specs before the eyes, etc.; but these form no necessary part of the disease.
Besides the optic nerve and its expansion, the retina of the eye receives nerves from more sources than any other organ of the body. Of the ten nerves which go off from the brain, six are distributed wholly, and the other four partially, to the eye, which, therefore, as may be readily inferred, suffers promptly and keenly from the misbehavior of its allies and neighbors, the other organs of the body. The stomach and bowels, the liver, the skin, the circulation, and, in general, all parts of the body, are more or less concerned in its healthy action, and in their turns are liable to be affected by its derangement. It becomes evident at once that, from its complex relations, the regulation of diet and regimen demands, were the eye only concerned, an attentive consideration.
We have called the disease we are now discussing the especial scourge of students. We should, perhaps, have limited our remark to our own students. In Europe this disease has excited comparatively little attention, and is generally dismissed with a few lines in works on ophthalmic diseases. Why is it that in our land we suffer so much more, apparently, from that source? Perhaps some of the causes are beyond our observation. There are others, however, which force themselves o...
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