Ophthalmology Times: 30 years old but still funky

November 1, 2006

In November 1976, President Gerald Ford and Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller likely "got down" to the popular new song, "Play That Funky Music" and viewed the top-grossing movie, Rocky. Mao Tse-Tung died, two amateur electronics enthusiasts developed the Apple computer in a California garage, USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, the Celtics swept Phoenix in the NBA finals, and Cincinnati prevailed over the Yankees in the World Series. The cost of a home averaged $48,000, a gallon of gas was 59 cents, the Dow's high for the year was 1,004, yours truly was a college sophomore, and Ophthalmology Times mailed its first issue.

In November 1976, President Gerald Ford and Vice-President Nelson Rockefeller likely "got down" to the popular new song, "Play That Funky Music" and viewed the top-grossing movie, Rocky. Mao Tse-Tung died, two amateur electronics enthusiasts developed the Apple computer in a California garage, USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, the Celtics swept Phoenix in the NBA finals, and Cincinnati prevailed over the Yankees in the World Series. The cost of a home averaged $48,000, a gallon of gas was 59 cents, the Dow's high for the year was 1,004, yours truly was a college sophomore, and Ophthalmology Times mailed its first issue.

Thirty years later, reading Vol. 1. No. 1 is like opening a time capsule. On page 1, Leonard Apt, MD, of UCLA describes the use of "new synthetic absorbable sutures" (Dexon and Vicryl) in strabismus surgery, and reports that oiling the sutures is an effective way to avoid the problem of "tissue drag," in which unwanted adjacent tissues adhere to the suture (Also see this issue). Barton L. Hodes, MD, "asserted" that standardized A-scan echography was an exciting new technology to allow accurate and non-invasive preoperative diagnosis of ocular and orbital disease.

Thirty years ago, like this year, the academy meeting was held in Las Vegas, but it was then called The American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology. The other front page article in Vol. 1 No. 1 is from a presentation made at that meeting by three people who later would become my professors (Drs. Walter Stark, Ronald G. Michels, and A. Edward Maumenee). They described a new "closed-eye" approach for surgical treatment of epithelial downgrowth.

Inside the issue are a number of articles on the emerging use of IOL implants. "Established as beneficial in patients with uncomplicated senile cataracts" one article by Daniel Taylor, MD, tells us, "artificial lens implantation is now being evaluated in patients who have both cataracts and corneal disease. Based upon his experience with Copeland and Worst Medallion lenses, "Dr. Taylor was able to voice cautious optimism." In what we now may consider to be a candidate for the understatement of all time, Dr. Taylor opines that "the art and science of artificial lens implantation continues to develop with increasing momentum."

Another article, by Pittsburgh ophthalmologist David A. Hiles, MD, reports on 34 children followed for up to 2 years after implantation of metal-loop Binkhorst lenses. While there were certainly complications, Dr. Hiles found that "intraocular lenses may be successfully implanted in pediatric patients."

The front page also spells out the purpose of the publication. Publisher David L. Murray wrote that "OPHTHALMOLOGY TIMES will substantially reduce the time-lag in medical communications by providing the reader with fast, accurate reports of news in Ophthalmology," that it would be an independent publication with no special editorial viewpoint or position, and that he hoped it would be "informative and inviting."

It was fun to look back 30 years and see that the earliest articles in Ophthalmology Times pretty much stand the test of time. They are certainly interesting, accurate if not prescient in some instances, and they demonstrate how the challenges we face one day may be largely gone the next (I think here of epithelial downgrowth). With an all-time high readership, we hope the publication is addressing important needs, living up to Murray's vision of rapid dissemination of useful and accurate information.

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