Alt Ref NoEY
TitleOphthalmic Department
DescriptionMaterial relating to the Ophthalmic Department, comprising:
Six parcels of watercolour drawings of eyes affected with various diseases, many with manuscript case histories of the particular patients depicted, including cases prior to the formation of the Opthalmic Department;
Ophthalmic Ward Admission Book for female patients under the care of William Thomas Holmes Spicer and Robert Foster Moore, 1917-1921;
Report on an ophthalmic patient's treatment, [1939].
Related MaterialSee also: Ophthalmology case notes, 1884 (SBHB/MR/16/29); Ophthalmology case notes, 1900 (SBHB/MR/16/47).
Administrative historyThere has been some form of Ophthalmic Department at St Bartholomew's Hospital since the appointment of John Freke as surgeon for diseases of the eye in June 1727. However affections of the eye were normally admitted to the general wards of the Hospital under the care of surgeons such as William Lawrence. The number of in-patients were small, believed to be due to the close proximity of the Moorfields Ophthalmic Hospital which had opened in 1804. Patients with minor eye injuries and conditions were treated as out-patients, leading to the formation of an out-patient ophthalmic department in around 1867.

In 1869, after repeated requests for more accommodation for ophthalmic in-patients, the Treasurer and Governors agreed to found an ophthalmic indoor department. Two additional wards were erected upon the building which housed the Abernethy and Lucas Wards (Lucas Block), with accommodation for 27 beds. An ophthalmic room, capable of being darkened and fitted with lamps and other appliances was built at one end. This room was also used as an operating theatre. In 1870 Henry Power was appointed senior Ophthalmic Surgeon and John Bowalter Vernon as his junior surgeon, with directions to attend three days a week. The wards were receiving patients from October 1870 but were officially opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales in June 1871. In honour of the royal couple, the male ward was named 'Prince Albert' [later Albert Edward] and the female ward 'Alexandra.' However these ward names did not seem to last, becoming commonly known simply as the Ophthalmic Wards.

From the start the department made notable contributions to ophthalmology and ophthalmic surgery; Power was a pioneer in corneal grafting, and Vernon became adept at using the recently invented ophthalmoscope whilst demonstrator in eye diseases in 1867.

After the First World War, two surgeons returned to join the Ophthalmic Department, bringing with them modern ideas and techniques. The first was Foster Moore, who had been appointed assistant surgeon in 1915, but who had subsequently left for active service, and the other was Rupert Scott. Moore is particularly remembered for being the first to succeed in treating retinoblastoma, with conservation of the eye. This work was ultimately carried on by Hyla Stallard, who became senior eye surgeon in 1947. He pioneered conservation of the eyes with malignant melatoma, by suturing a radioactive 60-Cobalt applicator over the base of the neoplasm.

The Ophthalmic Ward was moved to a single ward in the East Wing in 1930 and closed in 1939 at the outbreak of the War. On reopening, it underwent several moves before it reached Radcliffe Ward in the QEII block in 1961. The department still exists today but is now known as Ophthalmology, and as well as performing routine ophthalmic work specialises in retinoblastoma and ocular melanoma.
Access statusRestricted
Access ConditionsSome material is restricted. This is noted at file or item level in the catalogue.
Extent2 boxes, 1 volume, 1 letter
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