Ophthalmology in Ancient Rome, 27 BC–476 AD

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  • Title: Ophthalmology in Ancient Rome, 27 BC–476 AD
  • Author(s): Valentine J. Belfiglio
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies
  • Keywords: Ophthalmology, Immediate Medical Care, Combat Medicine
  • Volume: 14
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2327-0071 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-2481 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2327-0071/CGP/v14i01/61-66
  • Citation: Belfiglio, Valentine J.. 2019. "Ophthalmology in Ancient Rome, 27 BC–476 AD." The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies 14 (1): 61-66. doi:10.18848/2327-0071/CGP/v14i01/61-66.
  • Extent: 6 pages

Abstract

Visual acuity was essential in ancient war when the din of battle often rendered voice commands inaudible. Legionnaires looked for signals from unit standard bearers to form proper formations and maneuvers. Unit standard bearers looked for signals from the legion standard bearer (“aquilfer”) to signal the changing battle plans of the “legatus” (legionary commander). Roman commanders understood the important services of an ophthalmologist as part of the Roman Medical Corps. The ophthalmologist examined the visual acuity of recruits and was essential to treat eye injuries that occurred during battles or maneuvers, and to treat communicable diseases of the eye. Advanced medical treatment including eye care allowed minimally or moderately wounded soldiers to return to the battlefield as soon as possible. Medical treatment acted as a force multiplier to give the Roman army an advantage in war.