A Medical and Socio-Economic History of Eye Diseases (Trachoma and Glaucoma) and Blindness in Addis Ababa (1941-2013)

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Addis Ababa University


Trachoma and glaucoma are the oldest eye diseases and consequently blinding scourges that man has known since ancient times. The medical history of eye diseases in general and trachoma and glaucoma in particular is very much lagging and even ignored in Ethiopia. Data pertaining to the incidence, prevalence and situation of eye diseases in general and trachoma and glaucoma in particular in Ethiopia are fragmentary, incomplete and not sequential. Mos t researches on eye diseases in Ethiopia have been conducted by medical doctors and medical practitioners who have little or no interest in reconstructing medical history. Most of the researches done so far have focused on the prevalence of eye diseases in rural areas, especially trachoma. However, trachoma was prevalent in Addis Ababa in the past and still is prevalent. Glaucoma is also prevalent in rural and urban areas and it was and still is a major health problem but is a neglected area of study. This historical study attempts to fill this gap based on the available sources. Modem medical practice in the 20th century expanded under emperor Menelik II and his activity was continued by Emperor Haile Selassie I. The Menelilc II Hospital and Haile Selassie I Hospitals are my focus of study in which eye treatment service was given. In the past Ethiopians used to rely on traditional medicine and medical practitioners for all kind of diseases using traditional materials. This study discusses some traditional healing mechanisms to treat eye diseases in general. In addition to these traditional treatments in recent time Ethiopians have been utilizing modem medical treatment for eye diseases and the thesis attempts to reconstruct the progress of modem eye treatment and some problems related to medical treatment of eye diseases. Finally, the thesis looks at the social and economic problems of the blind and the institutional and medical response to these problems, with attempts at empowerment of sufferers from blindness.



Medical and Socio-Economic History of Eye