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Von Hippel-type clockwork trephine, London, England, 1901-1930

Trephines are normally associated with cutting out a piece of bone from a skull. However, this clockwork trephine was developed to remove a circular piece from the cornea of an eye, to be transplanted into a patient who was experiencing a disease of the cornea, most likely cataracts. Made by John Weiss, this trephine was invented by Arthur von Hippel (1841-1916), a German surgeon who experimented using both human and animal subjects to perfect his technique. This trephine forms the prototype for modern day trephines used in eye surgery and von Hippel is acknowledged as the first surgeon to successfully transplant corneal tissue into a human eye.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: ophthalmology

The branch of medicine dealing with the diseases and surgery of the visual pathways (usually the eyes or the brain).

Glossary: trephine

An instrument for trepanning, being an historical advancement on the trepan. It is a circular or cylindrical saw, with a handle like that of a gimlet, and a little sharp perforator called the center pin.

Glossary: cornea

The transparent part of the eyeball that covers the iris and pupil. It refracts light entering the eye on to the lens, which is then focused on to the retina.

Glossary: cataract

Cloudiness on the lens of the eye impairing vision or causing blindness.