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Curability of Cataract

Homeopathic Journal :: Volume: 4, Issue: 12, Oct 2011 (General Theme)   -   from Homeorizon.com
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Dr. Malan's cases :

Case I. - In the spring of 1841, a lady of about sixty years of age applied for homoeopathic treatment, and came to my notice under the following circumstances : She had for two or three years past gradually lost the sight, first of one eye and then of the other - both affected with cataract, now complete - and had for some months previous entirely lost her sight. Monsieur Maunoir, whose name is authority in such matters, had advised the operation to be made as the season was favourable; he considered the case to be one of complete and ripe cataract of the lens. However, the lady being strongly advised by her friends to apply to homoeopathy, and as she could not better employ the intermediate time until the operation could take place, she called in an old homoeopathic practitioner, whom I joined later. He prescribed Silic., then Cann. Sat., and then Sulph., and the cataract improved so rapidly that the patient, after a few months' treatment, travelled to a distant country, Russia, and from thence she wrote to me that, her sight having still continued to improve, she was now enjoying it as completely as she could ever expect at her age.

Case II. - In November, 1844, a man of strong constitution and lymphatic temperament, fifty-one years of age, applied to me under the following circumstances : He had had cataract of the right eye, ripe for some years, and one of the left, which had been ripe only a few months. Monsieur Maunoir had operated on the right eye three times, but without any success; the third operation took place four weeks before applying to me. Ever since, the patient had suffered from a violent inflammation of the whole eye; the sclerotica was much injected, the cornea opaque : there was great photophobia, a constant discharge of tears, and complete loss of sight. Besides, the eye-ball had partially emptied itself, the patient had lost his appetite, there was great thirst and much fever.

I prescribed Aconite (3/5) pulv. ij., and next day Bell. (2/20), a teaspoonful three times a day until amelioration.

On the 15th of November there was a great change, but the cornea remained opaque, the eye-ball partly shrunk, and the patient was made aware of the complete loss of that eye. Merc. Sol. (3/15).

On November 22, all the inflammatory symptoms of the right eye had disappeared; the left one presented a thick whitish opacity of the lens; the pupil was dilated, but mobile. The patient had certainly lost the sight of the right eye, and with the left he could only distinguish day from night, but was unable to guide himself. He was led about by this servant. Sulph. (3/30) was given dry on tongue.

On December 7, there was much amelioration, even of both eyes; the opacity of the right one had sensibly diminished in appearance, he could distinguish the fingers of the hand interposed between him and the light; and with the left eye he could distinguish the difference between some coins. Nothing was given.

On December 25, amelioration continued in the feet eye, the right remaining in the same state. He went about to his affairs, drove his own gig, and attended to all his business. A pustular eruption, accompanied with much itching, covered the whole body. He was given Cann. Sat. (3/15), and the sight continued to improve until he left off treatment, as he thought himself far enough recovered to need no further medical care I met with the patient seven months afterwards, he was still enjoying his sight and health.

It is much to be regretted that Dr. Malan does not give a minute account of both eyes at this period; still, the evidence of curative drug action cannot be contested. Note well the sentence in italics.

Case III. - December 21, 1844. A man of forty-two years of age, living in the country, of bilious temperament, thin, and who had suffered much from headaches, applied to me. He complained, for the previous six years, of a whitish hard cataract of lens of the left eye, and had for some years past completely lost the sight of that eye. He had the itch twenty years ago, and kept it three months.

Sulph. (8/30) removed chronic headaches and an inflamed state of the eyes.

January 23, Silic. (3/30) was given. Not much change occurred till Sulph. (3/30) was repeated. On the 24th of February, a violent itching came on, particularly when undressing at night; and all over his body an eruption of small pustules ensued. From that time the eye began to amend. He could distinguish the fingers of the hand, and gradually see objects more clearly; but having left the country I was unable to follow this interesting case.

"Dr. Malan thus concludes : "I know of other cases where the homoeopathic treatment proved most beneficial, but I object to mention those I have not myself witnessed.

"At this moment I have under my treatment a patient, who, for some years back, has had a cataract of the left eye. He has lost the sight of that eye for more than two years, and when he came under homoeopathic treatment, the cataract of the right eye was fast progressing. Since that time, now fifteen months ago, the right eye has been very nearly stationary, though the bad state of the general health has been much in the way of its treatment. It is to be regretted that he did not apply to homeopathy at an earlier period, for he was prevented from doing so by the advice of a homoeopathic practitioner. I mention this, - not to say that, contrary to this advice, homoeopathy will always cure the cataract, and that it will supersede surgery, - but only on order to draw the attention of my colleagues to this part of practice too neglected. I feel assured that regular homeopathic treatment will, if not always cure the cataract, yet do so in many cases; in many more it will stop the progress of the disease in the constitution, and the development of the cataract in the other eye; and in all cases where the operation must be resorted to, it will prepare the organism for the surgical operation, and prevent any danger attending it.

"The treatment of the cataract must, therefore, be first medical, and, en désespoir de cause only, surgical."

This being Dr. Malan's experience, it must be admitted that he has at least demonstrated the possibility of the medicinal cure of cataract.

That all cases are not amenable to medical treatment is not to be wondered at; indeed, it cannot be said of all the cases of any ailment that they are curable with medicines, since some cases of common cold end fatally, even with the most skilful treatment, and yet we do not usually consider a cold to be a deadly malady.

The fact is, the eye is considered the expulsive province of the surgeon; and so long as this idea remains there cannot be any great advance in the medicinal treatment of eye affections, and therefore not of cataract.

  • Everything is impossible until it is tried. At one time it was impossible to heal an inflammation without blood-letting.
  • One very great drawback to the medicinal treatment of so-called surgical complains is its difficulty as compared with mere knife-work, and then any one can appreciate a clever operator, but very few can appreciate the best work of the real physician, of which the effects can only be seen after many days.

The medical or surgical Hodge demands bulk, and obvious immediate effects; the sterile skeptic weens fertility impossible, since it is not in him; the weakling dreads any deviation from the trodden path, lest he be thought a medical dissenter, and you know dissent is not comme il faut.

The original dissenter must be a man of grain and grit. To be in the van is to be in an exposed position, and in the van of medical dissent involves misapprehension, and imputations of wrong and unfair motives. The man who advocates the medicinal treatment of anything authoritatively considered to lie solely within the province of the surgeon, must expect to be either ignored or tabooed at first; medical men constitute a trades-union, and they ill brook any independent thought or action.

I now give another case : Mrs. McM., an intelligent lady of about sixty years, lost the sight of her right eye, and began to lose the sight of the left. She consulted several of the best physicians of both schools of Philadelphia, who all pronounced it a cataract, and agreed that nothing but an operation would restore her sight. An old woman told her to apply the oil from a rabbit to the eye, which she did twice a day, and in six months it completely restored her sight, and removed all traces of cataract, so that she can read without glasses, which she had not done for many years. She complained of constant dryness in the eyes, which the oil removed, and this was the only peculiar symptom. - (W. Lovell Dodge, M.D. , Philadelphia; Hahnemannian Monthly, July, 1878, p. 648).

What the oil from a rabbit may be I do not know. This is a curious case, and perhaps of not great weight. Let some one with cataract try it.

Here is a further case :

An infant that was born with cataract. Sulph. effected considerable improvement; a cure was finally completed by means of Euphrasia and Lyc., which is recommended by Rummel. - (Jahr, Forty Years' Practice, Hempel's Translation, New York, 1869).

Jahr says further : "In this disorganization (cataract) of whatever kind I have so far accomplished most with sulph., allowing the dose to act a long time. If the action of Sulphur seems exhausted, I then commonly resort to Calc. and next to Lyc. with tolerable success. If these remedies do not help, I have given, with more or less success, Magnes., Cannab. Sat., and Silic., and in the case of old people Conium 30, of which I cause a solution of six globules to be at the same time applied externally."

There is not much individualizing here. Tout comme chez nous!

Dr. Angell, the eminent ophthalmologist of Boston, U; S., in his Treatise on the Diseases of the Eye for the use of General practitioners, Boston, 1870, thus expresses himself on the medicinal treatment of cataract : "It does not seem improbable to me that in the course of time we may find some reliable remedy, the administration of which, before the lens-fibre has become degenerated, may restore its transparency. Cataract is known to be a result of ergotism. It has also been produced in frogs by administering sugar in large quantities or by injecting it under the skin. Chloride of sodium and alcohol * have produced similar results. In our school, cures, or beneficial results, are reported to have followed the use of Cannab. Sat., Con., Phos., Silic., Sulph., and a few other of our remedies."

*An old Vienna oculist used to recommend his cataract patients to drink brandy so as to hasten the maturation of the cataract.

Then why not try medicinal treatment during the ripening, and in cases in which operation is impossible or undesirable? But cause of scientific therapeutics cannot be advanced on the line of "some reliable remedy"; we must rather individualize and treat the patient, not the cataract. A specific for cataract, in the very nature of things, cannot be found, because there are not two cases of cataract exactly alike.

Thus, I have noticed in my own experience one case due to repeated attacks of inflammation; another arose from arsenical poisoning; another from a liver affection; another was congenital, and another hereditary. Then there are those due to trauma, to retrocedent gout and suppressed menses, and, again, the many arising from a repercussion of an affection of the skin, as also those in the diabetic. Not being a specialist, my experience is necessarily limited, yet I have seen enough to know that there is cataract and cataract; and I do not mean merely nosological forms.

Moreover, various substances are known to cause cataract - such as ergot, nitric acid, common salt, alcohol, santonine, and sugar; and certainly of as many different kinds.

Case VII - Cataract of right eye; man, aet. 61. August, 1859, Cannab. Sat., 30; high potency; Nov. 9, Mag. Met., high potency. The eye, dry before, is now moist, and the sight commences to improve. March 18, 1860, sulphur, high potency; May 22, Sulphur, high potency; July 22, Caustic. 30; September 22, Sulphur, high potency. Sight clearer, but no dissolving of cataract. November 21, Silic., high potency. Seven days after, great improvement of sight. January 5, 1861. Silic. high potency; entire disappearance of cataract. - (Dr. Kirsch, Senr., Allgemeine Hom. Zeitung, lxxxiv., 214. From Raue.)

There is no mistake about this case; the persistent treatment persevered in from August, 1859, to January, 1861, is a worthy example to be followed. And one is very apt to be senile, at 61, especially if there is a cataract.

 Case VIII. - Cataract in a lady, aet. 60, was cured by the administration of Sulph., Pulsat., Silic., Calc. Carb., Baryt. Carb., Amm. Carb., and Mag. Met., given at long intervals and high attenuations. - (Dr. Kirsch, Senr., Allgemeine Homoeopathische Zeitung, lxxxv. 44.)

Here, too, we trace the hand of a great master in the therapeutic art.

Case IX - Cataract. Mrs. E., aet. 48; complains of heaviness of the eyelids, mist and gray fog before the eyes, and a feeling as of sand in the eyes. She was nursing a baby. In the right eye beginning of cataract. Burning n forehead; flashes in right eye; pain, as if beaten, in small of back. Sulph. 200, December, 1871. Nebulous sight, eruption on ears; the eye becomes clearer. Feb. 1, Sulph. 400; and March 1, 1872, Caustic. 60; perfect cure - (Ibid). In fact, rapid medicinal cure of incipient cataract.

Case X. - Woman, aet. 63, cataract in both eyes, worse in the right. October 18, 1869, Sulph. 60; January 4, 1870, Amm. Carb. 30, and higher potencies till May. May, Calc. Carb., high potency; July 7, Lycop., high potency; latter part of August, Mag. Carb., high potency; October 24, Baryta Carb., 30;December 21, Baryta Carb. 200. In the last two months a number of rhagades appeared in the palms of both hands; the eyes got entirely clear in that time - (Ibid).

This is good honest therapeutic work of the right stamp.

 Case XI - Cataracta Dura Incipiens. A lady, aet. 67, was suddenly attacked, after taking cold, with pressing pain around the eyes, which was worse in the open air; before the eyes she constantly saw dark figures, like spider-web or lace, of the size of a hand. She had been subject to sick-headaches all her life. Sepia 3, one dose night and morning, for fourteen days. In four weeks the large dark figures were reduced to mere specks, and her general health greatly improved. - (HL. Goullon, Junr., Internationale Hom. Presse, 1875, p. 691. In Raue.)

Dr. Goullon, Junr., is a man of considerable reputation.

Case XII. - Young man, aet. 20, had had the itch one year and a half ago, of which he got rid y internal and external use of medicines. Later, he had had an attack of intermittent fever, which he cured with pepper and whiskey. A short time since he discovered that he could not see with his left eye. The eye had a deal look; pupil was enlarged and immovable; in the middle of the lens there was an opacity, as if it had been punctured by a needle; the lids and conjunctiva were somewhat reddened. On holding the hand quite near to the eye, he could dimly discern the fingers. August 2, Sulphur 6; August 9, several pimples on the face and arms. Sight better. Sulph. 6, which was repeated on the 19th, 26th, and 29th of August, and on the 3rd and 23rd of September. There appeared a number of furuncles on the arms; the eye looks natural again, and he sees as well as ever before. - (Fr. Emmerich, Arch., XIV., iii. p. 115. In Raue).

In Hale's New Remedies, 1875, vol. ii., p. 569, we read under the heading, Pulsatilla Nuttaliana : "Dr. W.H.  Miller, of St. Paul, Minnesota, struck with the many points of similitude between this plant and the European Anemone Pulsatilla, conceived the idea that in chemical composition and therapeutical effects they were also closely allied, if not identical. He instituted numerous experiments with a view of verifying the latter surmise, and according to his statements, they proved to be entirely successful. He claims to have established the value of this remedy in many chronic diseases of the eye, particularly cataract, amaurosis, and opacity of the cornea. Very decided advantage was also experienced from its employment in cutaneous eruptions, and in secondary syphilis."

This latter remark, regarding its good effect in skin diseases, is significant, considering that the lens and its capsule and the skin are embryologically of identical origin.

It may be remarked that our Pulsatilla was already considered by Stoerck to be a remedy for cataract.

At this moment I have a lady patient suffering from cataract, who is taking Pulsatilla Nuttaliana.

It must not be given in too low a dilution, or it causes considerable distress at the neck of the bladder with frequent micturition.

In Hale (op. cit.), p. 671, under the head of Santonine, we read :

"It was also used in nine cases of cataract, of which four were cured, the rest not benefited."

We will next quote from Ophthalmic Therapeutics, by Timothy F. Allen, M.D. , Surgeon to the New York Ophthalmic Hospital, and George S. Norton, M.D. ? Surgeon to the Hew York Ophthalmic Hospital, and Ophthalmic and Aural Surgeon to the Homoeopathic Hospital on Ward's Island, New York, 1876.

On p. 252, we read : A large number of cases are to be found in our literature, in which the internal administration of a few doses of the properly selected remedy has worked a wonderful cure of cataract, but the great majority of these must be taken cum grano salis, and put aside with the remark "mistaken identity".

"We are, however, certain that by a careful selection of drugs according to the homeopathic law, and by continuing the use for a long period, we may succeed, in a large proportion of cases, in checking the progress of the disease, and are enabled to clear up a portion of the diffuse haziness, thus improving vision to a certain extent. But after degeneration of the lens fibres has taken place, no remedy will be found of avail in restoring its lost transparency and improving the sight. We must then - providing the vision is seriously impaired and it is senile or hard cataract - wait until it has become mature, when the lens should be extracted.

"The medical treatment will consist in the selection of remedies according to the constitutional symptoms observed in the patient, for the objective indication are entirely or nearly absent, and we cannot yet decide from the appearance of an opaque lens what remedy is required.

"The drugs found below have been verified by us, as having arrested the progress of the cataract : Baryta Carb., Calc., Caust., Lyc., Mag. Carb., Phos., Sepia, Sil. and Sulph."

Now, even though we accept these statements of Drs. Allen and Norton at the same price at which they accept the like statements of others on the same subject, viz., cum grano salis, still they are of considerable weight, even allowing that they, too, are sometimes mistaken in their diagnosis.

The italics are mine.

In the North American Journal of Homeopathy, vol. xiv., 1866, p. 592, is this article :

Cataract - Dr. Quardi, of Italy, has for several years been treating cataract with Ammonia. He gives the following case : A woman, aged 22, perceived a diminution in her power of vision. Her mother, two of her brothers, and her sister had all been afflicted with cataract. Her eyes presented a cortical opacity, which appeared greater at the circumference than towards the centre. Dr. Quadri prescribed the daily application of liquid Ammonia in watch-glass to the temples, and a few centigrammes of Hydrochlorate of Ammonia administered internally. After following this treatment for two months her eyes had so far improved as to enable her to resume her needle-work. The ophthalmoscope revealed at the same time a diminution in the extent and density of the opacity. The patient persevered in this treatment for five years, during which the affection continued to diminish; she left it off for a month, but was obliged to resume it at the end of that time, the infirmity having again gained ground; her return to the old treatment was attended with success.

From this case we may at any rate learn patience and perseverance in treatment. What the modus operandi of the Ammonia is, may not be readily determined (let us call it revulsive), but as there are numbers of cataract patients waiting for the completion of the maturation process, it would not harm them to give Dr. Quadri's Ammonia treatment a fair trial.

The treatment of cataract with Ammonia, is, however, by no means new. Ammoniated counter-irritants have been successfully used in the treatment of cataract; a very convenient form is Goudret's Pommade Ammoniacale, certainly less objectionable than Dr. Quadri's method.

The next case is culled from the American Homeopathic Review, vol. ii., 1860, p. 413. It is translated by the late (also that we should say late) Carroll Dunham from l'Homoeopathe Belge, and is by Dr. J. Mouremans of Brussels.

M. J., aged seventy-seven, had been blind four years. She is small, emaciated, and of sallow complexion. She had had three children. The account she gave of the exciting cause of her disease was very unsatisfactory. She could only say that several years ago, in consequence of a cold, she was attacked with inflammation of the conjunctiva, and that from that time her vision became more and more feeble. She saw snow-flakes and spider-webs continually in the atmosphere; surrounding objects appeared to her to be enveloped in a thick mist, which prevented her from distinguishing with accuracy the external margin of an object; the light of a candle was encircled by a halo; she could distinguish more clearly in the evening than in the morning; artificial light she could not well tolerate.

The patient came to our Institution (Brussels Policlinique) April 29th, 1856. At this time, she could hardly distinguish light from darkness; the pupils were dilated, and the mobility of the iris was partially impaired; the crystalline lens was obscured, of a whitish color and uniformly shaded. The patient complained of no pain; her disposition was much affected, however, and she had, for four years, found it impossible to apply herself to her accustomed occupation. All bodily functions were normal.

We began our medical treatment 29th April, with Euphrasia 30; three globules were dissolved in six ounces of water, and a teaspoonful taken every night and morning.

May 26th. The patient reported an improvement. She could already better distinguish day from night. The same remedy was continued, but in a higher potency, and the three globules were ordered to be taken all at once.

August 4. The patient began to distinguish objects, but they appeared distorted. Cannabis 30 was prescribed, three globules to be dissolved in five ounces of water, and teaspoonful of the solution to be taken every morning and evening. This remedy was allowed to act undisturbed until December 1.

The condition of things was unchanged. The high potencies were then resorted to, Sulph. 200, three globules, was given. On the 2nd March, the crystalline lens appeared to be less clouded. The patient could distinguish persons, although they appeared to her as if in a mist. After this time she was able to come to the clinique unattended.

Causticum 200 was given.

April 30th. She still saw black spots floating before the eyes, but vision kept gradually and steadily improving. Silicea 30 was ordered, to be taken as the previous remedies.

At the end of the month of May, the patient, quite overjoyed at her condition, informed us that she could readily distinguish all objects; could clearly recognize the letters in a book; that she could devote herself again to her usual occupation, but that she saw a halo around the light of a candle. Phos. 30 was the last remedy which the patient received. Two months later she came to render thanks for the benefits she had received, assuring us that her vision had improved to such a degree that she could thread a needle, could sew, and could read with ease. Before publishing this history, we have made enquires respecting the good woman, who has now reached her eightieth year, and learnt that the happy result, thus attained by her through Homeopathy, has continued to the present time.

As this case bears the approval of Caroll Dunham, few our school will gainsay it.

The next case is Dr. Berridge's * (in Raue, 1871), pp. 60-1).

Cataract of the Eight Eye - For ten months has often seen a very bright light, beginning at right outer canthus, increasing in size, then standing before right eye as large as a penny for a minute, then decreasing in size and vanishing. It is seen when the eyes are open or closed, but closing it tightly makes it decrease and disappear; it comes chiefly when stretching himself; it causes lachrymation when looking into it, and makes him feel stupid. Hahnemann gives under Chelidonium; "A dazzling spot seemed to him to be before the eyes, and when he looked into it, the eyes watered." One dose of Chel. 200 was given. Fourteen days after he reports that the light is smaller, dimmer, does not cause lachrymation, or make him feel so stupid. This symptom is thus confirmed. After this Dr. Berridge did not see him.

Apropos of the use of Chelidonium Majus in cataract, we may here note that Dr. Buchmann, in his monograph on this remarkable remedy, gives two cases of cataract cured by it.

I myself can add a case of amelioration of a right sided cataract brought about largely by Chelidonium. The patient is a lady of about forty years of age, who used to suffer much from chronic congestion of the portal system, and this was my indication for it. (See Buchmann's Monograph.)

Dr. Baehr (in his Science of Therapeutics, vol. i., p. 257. Hempel's Translation, New York, 1869) says : "Cataracts are generally considered incurable by internal remedies. The proposition has been refuted in homoeopathy by a number of successful cures, and we can boldly assert that we have succeeded in controlling this disorder by the use of internal agents. Unfortunately, however, when the proper remedy is to be selected, we are compelled to admit that we have not yet succeeded, in determining what remedies are adapted to the different forms of cataract. The main remedies are : Phosphorus, Pulsatilla, Sulphur, Calc. Carb., Lycopodium; the less certain and less tried remedies are Silicea, Cannabis, Euphrasia. Of course, we do not mean to say that we can remove every cataract by homoeopathic remedies. As a general rule, we can only say that the prognosis is so much more favourable the younger the patient, and the shorter and the less developed the disorder. In the case of old people, where cataract may be regarded as a gradual dying out of the lens, it would be absurd to suppose that internal treatment is of any use. The prognosis of capsular cataract is more favourable than that of any other form."

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