• 154960734

Pearls from the Pend No.14

Pearls from the Pend No. 14

Written by: Duncan McAra
Published: 29 October 2019
Created: 29 October 2019

Pool of Siloam

Duncan McAra

In 2017 the St John Ophthalmic Association (SOA) was established by ophthalmic practitioners across the world to support the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group. The purpose of the Association is to broaden the ophthalmic expertise available to St John and its staff. In April 2017 the SOA held its first scientific congress in Jerusalem. Last month, 4-6 September, the SOA held its 2019 Hospital Summit, with the Prior and Hospitaller making a return visit to represent St John Scotland.


Earlier in the summer, on 2 July, the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group had been awarded the Joint Commission International (JCI) re-accreditation for quality of care and patient safety, having initially received accreditation in 2013. JCI recognition is considered the gold standard for healthcare worldwide. Accreditation will be reassessed in 2022, which coincidentally will mark the 140th anniversary of the St John Eye Hospital’s foundation.

And how appropriate that in October 2016 the Holy Family Hospital, the maternity hospital in Bethlehem managed by the Order of Malta, signed an agreement with the Order of St John to enhance the provision by the St John Eye Hospital of a walk-in clinic, and mobile Old City School Screening Project, providing primary and emergency eye care for residents and tourists in the Muristan district of Jerusalem – the location of the original twelfth-century hospital run by the Knights Hospitaller.

The ghost of the thirteenth-century oculist, Benvenutus Grassus of Jerusalem, must doubtless be murmuring his wonderment and approbation.

Against this background of ophthalmological advancements and international charitable and professional cooperation, the Librarian has been extending the stock of journal articles and books on ophthalmology in general and the St John Eye Hospital in particular. He hopes that the reading list below will be of interest to Order members and supporters, and stimulate their curiosity to learn more about one of the Order’s two chief foundations.

Abu-Rabia, Aref, ‘Indigenous practices among Palestinians for healing eye diseases and inflammations’, Dynamis, Feb. 2005, 25, pp. 388-401.

Anon., ‘St John Ophthalmic Hospital in Jerusalem’, British Medical Journal, 29 April 1939, 1 (4086), p. 889.

Banayot, Riyad G., ‘A retrospective analysis of eye conditions among children attending St John Eye Hospital, Hebron, Palestine’, BMC Research Notes [BioMed Central], 2016, 9 (202).

Bartisch, Georg, Ophthalmodouleia: Das ist Augendienst [a treatise on the service of the eyes], facsimile edition of 1583 original, Editions Medicina Rara, Stuttgart & Boston, Mass., n.d. [but c. 1970]. Bartisch has been designated “the father of modern ophthalmology”.


Bartisch, Georg,  Ophthalmodouleia, trans. Donald Blanchard, J.-P. Wayenborgh, Ostend, Belgium, 1996. Produced in the same style and format as the 1583 original, with the same woodcuts and layered illustrations.

Blum, Nava & Fee, Elizabeth, ‘The St John Eye Hospital: A Bridge for Peace’,  American Journal of Public Health, Jan. 2009, 99 (1), pp. 32-3.

Chignell, Anthony,  The St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital: A Personal Account of the years 2002-2008, Order of St John, London, 2008.

Eldredge, L. M., ‘A thirteenth-century ophthalmologist, Benvenutus Grassus: his treatise and its survival’,  Journal of the Royal College of Medicine, Jan. 1998, 91 (1), pp. 47-52.

Hardaker, Philip, ‘A sight for sore eyes: The St John Eye Hospital of Jerusalem’,  St John History: Proceedings of the St John Ambulance Historical Society of Australia, 2012, 12, pp. 40-6.

Hume, Edgar Erskine,  Medical Work of the Knights Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem, The Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, 1940.

Keeler, R., ‘Antique ophthalmic instruments and books: The Royal College Museum’,  British Journal of Ophthalmology, Pt. I, June 2002, 86 (6), pp. 602-3; Pt.II, July 2002, 86 (7), pp. 712-14.

Keeler, Richard & Dua, Harminder S., The Eye in History, Laboratoires Théa, Clermont-Ferrand, 2019. A superbly illustrated compilation of articles on Instruments, Books and Individuals that shaped the course of Ophthalmology.

MacCallan, Michael, Light out of Darkness; A biography of Arthur Ferguson MacCallan, the trachoma pioneer, 2013; 2nd edn, The Choir Press, Gloucester, 2018.

Miller, Stephen J. H., “Ten Years as Hospitaller”: The Ophthalmic Hospital in Jerusalem, 1981-1990, Grand Priory of the Order of St John, London, 1990.

O’Shea, John G., ‘A History of the St John Ophthalmic Hospital, Jerusalem’, Proceedings of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, 1997, 27, pp. 603-10.

O’Shea, John G., ‘The St John Ophthalmic Hospital: a medical ambassador in Jerusalem’, Eye, March 1999, 13, pp. 270-2.

Reifler, David, Days of Ticho: Empire, Mandate, Medicine and Art in the Holy Land, Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem, 2015.

David Reifler, an ophthalmologist from Michigan State University, tells the story of Dr Avraham Albert Ticho (1863-1960), a Jewish Viennese-trained ophthalmologist from Moravia, who settled in Ottoman-ruled Jerusalem in 1912. Among the topics in this book are Dr Ticho’s marriage to his cousin the artist Anna Ticho, his supervision of the first Hadassah nurses and medical developments in Palestine focusing on Dr Ticho’s contributions in medicine in general and ophthalmology in particular.

Spivey, Bruce E., ‘The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem: Providing Eye Care Where None Exists’, Scope [American Academy of Ophthalmology], Winter 2019, 23 (1), pp. 1-4.

Talbot, John F., ‘The foundation of the St John Eye Hospital, Jerusalem’, St John History: Proceedings of the St John Ambulance Historical Society of Australia, 2010-2011, 10, pp. 35-48. Reprinted as a St John Historical Society Publication, London, 2011.

Thackray, Jemima, ‘The pilgrim healers of Palestine’, Church Times, 19 Dec. 2014.

Verity, David, ‘The St John Eye Hospital Group: Historic Order, Modern Hospital’, Apothecary: Journal of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London, 2013, pp. 28-34.

Wheeler, J. R., ‘History of Ophthalmology Through the Ages’, British Journal of Ophthalmology, May 1946, 30 (5), pp. 264-75.


Johannes Stradanus, The Spectacle Vendor,
engraved by Johannes Collaert (1582)

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