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Year : 1959  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 57-65

Summary of the report of the delegation to the XVIIIth international ophthalmic congress held at Brussels in September 1958

Aligarh, India

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Mohanlal. Summary of the report of the delegation to the XVIIIth international ophthalmic congress held at Brussels in September 1958. Indian J Ophthalmol 1959;7:57-65

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Mohanlal. Summary of the report of the delegation to the XVIIIth international ophthalmic congress held at Brussels in September 1958. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1959 [cited 2021 Feb 25];7:57-65. Available from: https://www.ijo.in/text.asp?1959/7/2/57/40702

24 Members of the Indian Ophthalmological Society formed the Indian Delegation to the Congress at Brussels. In all 32 Ophthalmologists from all over India attended the Congress among whom nine were active or retired Professors, four Heads of Ophthalmic Institutions and the rest Consulting Ophthalmologists.

The official Group visited 24 Clinics-Moscow (2), Prague (1), Austria (2), Bonn (1), Gand-Belgium (1), Edinburgh (1), London (4), Paris (3), Barcelona (2), Geneva (1), Zurich (1), Rome (2) and Cairo (3).

The Delegation was well received everywhere and was given official recognition.

In all 146 papers including three Symposia were read or presented at the Congress ; out of this nine were on behalf of the Indian Ophthalmologists. Of the 29 Scientific Sessions during the course of four days, two were presided over by two members of our Delegation.

The Delegation was greatly impressed by their visits to various Centres. It was observed that in each of these Clinics, there exist facilities for carrying out research work in different branches of Ophthalmology under the Professors. This has been possible by the provision of sufficient staff in the shape of part-time and whole-time research workers, adequate number of senior and junior doctors, adequate number of technical and auxiliary staff and equipment and accommoda­tion on a large scale. All Ophthalmic Institutions and Departments engaged in teaching and research are provided with their Pathological Departments with whole-time pathologists, technicians, photo artists and librarians. There is not a single institution which has not a separate fully equipped and staffed Orthoptic Department.

On the technical side, special work is being done on-- ( 1 ) the treatment of Detachment of Retina and Retinal Tumours by photo-light coagulation, ( 2 ) diagnostic aspects of glaucoma, ( 3 ) retrolental fibroplasia, particularly the effect of oxygen on retinal vessels, ( 4 ) treatment of lid tumour by M. 193, ( 5 ) treatment of amblyopia, 6) keratoplasty, ( 7 ) placing of the acrilic lens in the anterior chamber, ( 8 ) electro-retinography and myography, ( 9 ) aqueous culture and cytology, (10 ) movements of lids, ( 11 ) genetics, ( 12 ) biochemical study of aqueous from physiological standpoint, ( 13 ) colour vision, ( 14 ) orthoptics and ( 15 ) contact lenses.

In short the research and the clinical work is progressing very rapidly in practically all the centres visited, with different specialization in different clinics.

The delegation also observed that hundreds of Indian students are executing their post-graduate studies mostly with the object of obtaining Diplomas and Degrees in those countries, particularly in U.K., West Germany and Austria. Many of these students have to stay in these countries for a number of years and spend a lot of money to obtain these Diplomas, sometimes failing a number of times in their tests. Our Western colleagues are prepared to help us so that basic post-graduate education may he given in our country. It was felt that it would be more useful if ophthalmologists, engaged in teaching, should work at one of these Institutions for special work, but should not go there for getting their post-graduate qualifications. This can be achieved by establishing Institutes for post-graduate teaching and research in ophthalmology on a regional basis, one in each State, if possible, and sending junior members of the teaching staff and teachers for Orthoptics and other trainings abroad as the facilities for such training do not exist in India.

The main Group visited the following Clinics :--


1. Helmholtz State Scientific Institute for Eye Diseases -Moscow, Prof. Alexander Vassilyerich as its Director

2. University Eye ClinicNo .1-Moscow. Their chief work is on glaucoma and trachoma.


1. University Eye Clinic -Prague, with Professors Dienstbier and J. Kurz as its heads. Plastic surgery was a speciality at this clinic.


1. University Eye Clinic No.1 , with Prof. A. Pillat as its head. He gave a talk on the treatment of lid tumours and treatment of amblyopia.

2. University Eye Clinic No.2 , with Prof. J. Boek as its head. He showed operations of Keratoplasty and Cataract etc.

West Germany

1. University Eye Clinic-Bonn, with Prof. H. K. Muller as its Director., Special work on Light Coagulation of Detachment and intraocular tumours was demonstrated. This is one of the latest and most modern Clinics of Europe, which is particularly equipped for biochemical research.


1. University Eye Clinic-Gand ( Belgium ), with Prof. J. Francois as its head. Their main work is on :

i ) Colour vision.

ii) Electronic Microscopy for the structure of various tissues of the Eye.

iii) Micro-electrophoresis method for separation of various fractions of the different tissues and fluids obtainable in very small quantities.

iv) Study of circulation of the Eye by means of Radio-opaque dyes and radiography.

Great Britain


1.Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, with Professors G. I. Scott and J. R. Paterson as the heads of the two Units of the Eye Clinic. Here the delegates were also shown the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons which was established in 1905. Prof. Mekie was very kind to take the delegation round and explain the various aspects of the Museum.

The main features of the eye clinic were as follows :-

The educative material and histological specimen have been very nicely prepared. The technique of permanent embedding of specimens in perspex was very interesting.

This Institute has separate staff for Post-graduate teaching. The Hospital is maintained by the Ministry but the Professors, their Chief Assistants and the Pathological Department are maintained by the University.


Moorfields Eye Hospital-City Branch, London. Dr. R. C. Davenport of the Institute very kindly arranged the Session at the Moorfields Eye Hospital (City Branch ) where Drs. King, Lister and Lie demonstrated the operations. In the afternoon, the delegates attended the Westminster Branch of the Moorfields Eye Hospital. Here Dr. T. Keith Lyle demonstrated the operations. Dr. Lyle and Dr. Kenneth Wybar gave lectures on " Place of Orthoptics in the Treatment of Squint " and " Pre-operative treatment of Abnormal Retinal Correspondence." The Contact Lens and Orthoptics Departments were also visited.

2. Institute of Ophthalmology-Dr. R. C. Davenport and Prof. N. H. Ashton took the delegates round the Institute which has made such great progress within the past few years.

The Institute of Ophthalmology has been lodged in a building which was originally an Eye Hospital. The Institute is a pure Research Institute and Teaching School. It has no beds. The cases to it are referred by all the Hospitals. It is doing both basic and clinical research. It has got the following main sections :

i). Pathological Section under Prof. N. H. Ashton.

ii) Research Section under Sir Duke-Elder.

iii ) Medical. School under the Director.

Its re-organisation is under serious consideration. It has the following Departments :

i ) Glaucoma Clinic :-At the present moment special work is being done on low tension glaucoma. Those cases are very thoroughly examined by aplanation tonometry, Dixon and Schiotz Tonometer, water drinking and dark room tests and are followed for two years at least. The Glaucoma Clinic is very well equipped and staffed.

ii) Physiological Laboratories :-In these Laboratories work is being done on the nervous control of intraocular pressure and on transpla . lta­tion of Cornea.

iii) Pathology and Bacteriology Laboratories :-Prof. N. H. Ashto:a's original work on Retro-Lental Fibroplasia is very interesting. Excessive oxygen as the cause of retro-lental fibroplasia was a pioneering work by Prof. Ashton. Now they are working as to how the oxygen brings about this condition. It has been established that the inflammation caused round about the blood vessels brings about this condition. This problem is being further investigated.

iv ) Museum

v) Photographic and Artist Department :-The recent development of the department has been the Printing Section. This Department is a very important section of the Institute and is working under Dr. A. Henson.

vi ) Library :-The Library is very well equipped.

vii ) Workshop :-A Great emphasis is laid on the workshop. This workshop has a number of technicians and has a carpenter's shop. It meets all the needs of the Institute.

3. Plastic Institute of East Greenstead :-Here Dr. G. J. Romanes showed round the Institute and showed slides and films on The Surgery of Squint, Plastic Operation and Corneal Transplantation. Dr. Cox gave a talk on " The preserva­tion of the donor material and the problems that are being faced in this direction ".



1. Hospital Laboratories Ophthalmologic, with Prof. E. Hartmann as its head.

2.Hospital Coeclin Ophthalmologic, with Dr. G. Offret as its head. In these Clinics, operations of squint, scleral resection, cataract and glaucoma were demonstrated much to the interest of the Delegates. The Delegates also visited Roussel Laboratories, who manufacture Hydro-cortisone. Their Director Prof. Dr. James took great personal interest in showing round.

Lyon :-

Special work on Keratoplasty is being done by Dr. Louis Paufique of the Clinic, which has made this Clinic one of the most popular ones for visiting ophthalmologists.

Spain (Barcelona)

1. Dr. J. Barraquer's Institute of Ophthalmology :-The Delegates spent one full day at this Institute. Even though a private clinic, it has an Institute of Ophthalmology. Prof. Barraquer's is a private clinic and has had the historical back-ground of three generations. The main work at this clinic has been the extraction of Cataract by Erysyphake. It has been now developed very much. Recently Dr. Barraquer has introduced the enzyme (Chymo-Trypsin) in the surgical treatment, which is claimed to dissolve the zonula. It is being largely used in many clinics.

Dr. Barraquer is introducing the Acrylic lens in the anterior chamber even in young patients suffering from Myopia. He introduces this lens either after removing the lens or without removing the lens. However, this surgery seems to have a great future. The Institute of Barraquer also runs a training course for Spanish people. It has grown into a very important Clinic of Europe.

2. Dr. A. Arruga's Clinic : The delegates ere treated to a feast of operations by this versatile operator. His is a Private Clinic and is well furnished. It has a few beds and Prof. Arruga sends his cases to live in the city after the operation, even those of Detachment. He only keeps Cataract cases. This indicates that if the operation has been done nicely and if one is sure of the post-operative needs of the patients, much of post-operative hospitalisation can be avoided.



University Eye Clinic-Geneva, with Prof. A. Franceschetti as its head. In this Clinic Prof. Franceschetti showed round the clinics, gave talks and showed films. In Geneva, original work on genetics is being done. Other specialities of the Clinic are the work on glaucoma and corneal transplantation. At this Clinic,each member of th group was given an opportunity to do the lightcoagulation on the eye of a rabbit. Thereafter films were shown and a talk was given about the treatment of Band-shaped Keratitis with Versitone. Other things that attract the attention in this Clinic are the system of recording and the work on Retinography.


University Eye Clinic, Zurich, with Prof. Marc. Amsler as its head. Prof. Amsler took us round the new Clinic and gave talks on aqueous humour and showed interesting films on various aspects of Ophthalmic conditions. The Clinic at Zurich is attached to the new buildings of the General Hospital. This Clinic has 80 beds in general wards and 12 in private wards. Here every patient pays according to his capacity on the basis of the income-tax he pays. It is a very complete unit and compares only to the clinic at Bonn in its general set-up. The advantage of the clinic is that it is closely connected with Neurosurgery Depart­ment and so the co-ordination between these two departments as well as other departments of the Hospital are very close.

This is a very old Clinic of Switzerland and Dr. Graefle is the father of this Clinic and it has the honour of having men like Vogt and others at the head. The chief work that has been done by Prof. Amsler is on maculopathy, cytological investigation of the aqueous and corneal transplantation. His system of record­ing is very interesting and can very well suit our Hospitals.

In the Indoor section, only the record of indoor cases is kept. All the other records are maintained in the out-patients' department.

The Photographic Department of this Clinic and the system of keeping photographic records is very efficient in all the clinics of Switzerland.

The Group also visited the famous shop of Ernst Grieshaber at Schaff­hausen.


1.The Universit y Eye Clinic, with Prof. G. B. Bietti as its head. Prof. Bietti has done special work on Trachoma and Uveitis.

2. The Provincial Eye Hospital, with Prof. Leonardi as its head. At both these clinics, the Delegation was shown interesting operative surgery.


1.Ophthalmic Department of the Kasr-El-Ainy Hospital, with Prof. M. A. H. Attiah as its head.

2.Giza Ophthalmic Institute with Dr. Ibrahim Mohammad as its head.

3. Giza Ophthalmic Hospital with Dr. Sabri Kamal as its Director.

Brussels Congress

The Congress was attended by about 2,200 delegates from all over the World. Members from 64 countries participated. The United States headed the number of delegates with 400 members. India was heading among the Asiatic and African countries.

Arrangements for holding meetings, Scientific Exhibition, Trade Exhibition, Information and Secretariat were excellent. It started with the opening of the Session in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen Mother of Belgium on the 8th of September 1958, and ended on 12th September 1958 with a closing ceremony. The official subjects of the symposia were - (i) Radio-active Isotopes, (ii) Genesis of functional symptoms in an Eye with raised tension and, (iii) Aetiology of Cataract. Discussions were held on Orthoptic treatment of concomitant strabis­mus, Senescence in Ophthalmology and preventive treatment of Idiopathic and Secondary Retinal Detachment. About 90 speakers from all over the World took part in the presentation of papers and discussions that followed. 146 free papers were read on various important subjects. These papers were being read and discussed in four Halls simultaneously. Doctors from all over the World took part in it. All the Scientific Sessions were presided by different Ophthalm­ologists. In all, 28 Sessions were held ; two of these were presided by Ophthalmologists from India Drs. S. N. Cooper and H. D. Dastoor (Bombay).

In all 9 papers were presented or read by Indian Ophthalmologists K. Sen (Calcutta), S. N. Cooper (Bombay), H. D. Dastoor (Bombay), S. P. Gupta (Lucknow), Satnam Singh and K. C. Agarwal (Aligarh), L. P. Agarwal (Kanpur) and J. Pawah (Sitapur).

Another important feature of the Congress was the presentation of films of the various operative techniques of operations by the Ophthalmologists from all over the World. These films were very interesting and were very informative. They were very popular and formed the most popular feature of the Scientific Sessions. In all 65 films were shown.

Other side-lights of the Congress were the meetings of the International Society for the Prevention of Blindness under the Chairmanship of Prof. A. Franceschetti of Geneva, International Association against Trachoma with Prof. G. B. Bietti of Rome in the Chair, International Professional Association of Ophthalmologists with Dr. Ch. Contela (Paris) in the Chair and that of Asia- Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology. The next meeting of the Asia-Pacific Academy will be held in Manila (Philippines) in 1960. Dr. V. K. Chitnis of Bombay has been elected its Vice-President.

Another interesting feature of the Congress was a very well organised Scientific Exhibition in which 51 Institutions from all over the World participated.

Scientific Exhibition:-The main features of the Scientific Exhibition were as follows :-

(i) Stereo Photographs of Corneal Dystrophies and Gonioscopy in pathologi­cal conditions.

(ii) Coloured photographs of fundus.

(iii) Hand Fundus Camera made by a Japanese Firm.

(iv) Flying spot Ophthalmoscope.

(v) Ultrasonic investigation of the interior of the Eye by Ultrasonic Slit Lamp.

(vi) Reading aid; in low vision.

(vii) Indirect Stereoscopic Ophthalmoscopy with Scleral Pressure.

THE COMMERCIAL EXHIBITION was also well organised. 52 Firms from U.K.,Germany, France, U.S.A., Belgium, Switzerland and Italy exhibited their products.

The Congress concluded with a visit to Bruges (Belgium). Bruges is an ancient town of Belgium. The dinner was served in quaint Bruges style and music and was very much appreciated.

On the following day i.e. on 13th September, 1958 Prof. J. Francois of Gand who was the General Secretary of the Congress invited the entire Indian Delegation to visit the town of Gand and the Clinic. Lunch was served lavishly.

In short the Congress at Brussels was a great success both from the Academic and Social point of view. The most important decision of the International Society from Asiatic point of view was their decision to hold its next Session in India in 1962 on the invitation extended to it by the Indian Ophthalmological Society. This would be the first International Congress of Ophthalmology ever to be held in Asia. It may be remembered that the International Ophthalmic Congress is the oldest International Organisation in any speciality of Medicine just as the Indian Ophthalmological Society is the oldest organisation of a medical speciality in India. The previous Conferences have been held in the past in different countries of Europe and U.S.A. The last four were held as follows :-

1. Egypt (Cairo) 1937

2. United Kingdom (London) 1950

3. Canada & U.S.A. (Montreal & Canada) 1954

4. Belgium (Brussels) 1958

The acceptance of the invitation of the Indian Ophthalmological Society by the International Congress, to hold its next Session in India throws a great responsibility on Ophthalmic Institutions in India to make the next Congress a great success, to develop their own Institutions, and to take part in the Scientific Exhibition and deliberations of the various Scientific Sessions.


In conclusion, I would submit that the trip to Brussels Congress as well as to various Clinics was very beneficial. The Delegation was well received with all cordiality and sincerity and the Professors and the Assistants in all these Clinics were always ready to tell what they possibly could. There was a growing feeling that Indian Hospitals and Institutes should co-ordinate on an exchange basis so that junior Doctors from these countries could go and work in Hospitals in India with the object of getting more training and experience in operative work and their Colleagues from India could come and work in the Clinics in Europe in their research Institutions and Laboratories. This is a good and practical suggestion and may be pursued. The idea is that doctors in India should be continued to be paid by their employers and the visiting doctors from outside countries could continue to be paid by their employers. The passage should be paid by their respective countries.

It is a general observation that each Clinic in Europe is engaged in some type of research or the other ; if it is fundamental in one, then it is clinical or surgical in the other.

Young doctors have devoted themselves to the research side. It has been possible only because greater attention is paid to original work than to degrees. While in U. K. sufficient importance is attached to the Degrees or Diplomas, no one will rise to the status of a Consultant unless and until he has some original work to his credit. As far as Ophthalmology is concerned, the Institute of Ophthalmology in U. K. provides the best teaching ground. In Europe, no assistant is permitted private practice. All the staff gives most of the time in the Clinics and Laboratories. They are able to do this work because all Clinics are well equipped and staffed.

It is very desirable that Institutes and the Ophthalmic Departments of the Medical Colleges in India, engaged in teaching and research, should be equipped with their own Pathological and Histopathological Laboratories and be properly staffed.

Better diagnostic equipment should be provided to the Ophthalmic Depart­ments and Institutions and they should be given every possible facility to improve their work so that they may attain the standard of their counterparts in the West.

Each Institution should draw out a plan for development within the next four years, which will have a dual advantage. On the one hand, the standard of the Institutions will rise; and on the other, we will be able to put a good stand at the forthcoming Congress in 1962.

The Indian Ophthalmological Society should take up the question of standardising the teaching and research Institutions, as well as the question of providing minimum equipment for Eye Clinics and Hospitals and should press upon the State and the Central Governments to extend such assistance as they can.

The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance, the Reserve Bank of India and the Secretary of the Indian Ophthalmological Society Dr. Pandit deserve our thanks for the help given to the delegates.

Shri J. N. Mithal of Messrs. Deena & Co. who travelled with the group as group manager took great care of the delegation.

The delegation will long remember this trip not only for its educative value but also for the mutual assistance and goodwill which prevailed throughout which made the trip a big success.


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