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SPECIAL ARTICLE
Year : 2003  |  Volume : 51  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 303-308

Jules gonin. Pioneer of retinal detachment surgery


Jules Gonin Eye Hospital, 15, Av. de 1004 Lausanne, Switzerland, France

Correspondence Address:
Thomas J Wolfensberger
Jules Gonin Eye Hospital, 15, Av. de 1004 Lausanne, Switzerland
France
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


PMID: 14750617

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Before the turn of the 20th century, eyes with a retinal detachment were considered doomed. Contrary to other branches of ophthalmology, such as cataract extraction, the surgical treatment of retinal detachment was still in its infancy, and the surgical success rates were less than five percent. From 1902 to 1921 Jules Gonin almost single handedly changed the landscape of retinal detachment surgery forever. He recognised that the retinal break was the cause - and not the consequence as it was largely believed at the time - of the retinal detachment, and that the treatment had at all costs to comprise the closure of the break by cauterisation. He named the procedure ignipuncture , as he cauterised the retina through the sclera with a very hot pointed instrument. Despite rigorously detailed clinical observations and increasing success rates, his discovery was not readily accepted and sometimes openly opposed by a large part of the ophthalmic establishment. It was not until 1929 that he received worldwide acclaim at the International Ophthalmological Congress in Amsterdam for his surgical technique. His legacy lives on in the eye hospital in Lausanne that bears his name, in the Gonin Medal awarded by the International Council of Ophthalmology every four years for the highest achievement in ophthalmology, and in a street named after him, the very street that he used to walk from his home to the hospital every day.


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