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Mohamed al-Gafequi (eye specialist)

Mohamed al-GafequiNeither the chroniclers nor scientific historians have left us a full biography in Arabic of Al-Gafequi: all they tell us is that he was born in the 12th century in the north of Cordoba province, and that he was a highly experienced eye-specialist and connoisseur of Arabic literature who had his practice in Cordoba.

We know a lot more about him, for instance that he was a specialist in cataract operations and in other eye complaints, from the fascinating work entitled "Guide to the Oculist ", one manuscript of which is preserved in the library of the Royal Monastery of El Escorial.

He studied and treated diseases of the pupil and the iris, and discovered that cataracts were caused by the segregation of a liquid which produces cloudiness, like water falling in front of the eye. He also recommended different surgical instruments for cataract operations, for example a special needle for extracting the cataract. He was involved in a debate with Albucasis about whether the cataract had a capsule, or membrane. Al-Gafequi provided evidence of his theory in a patient from Andujar, a region of Cordoba province, whom he operated on and extracted the cataract in its membrane.

The surgical instruments he describes and the remedies he used to soothe the pain are taken from the writings of Antylle of Alexandria.

To mark the 700th anniversary of his birth, a bust was unveiled in front of the present Philosophy and Arts Faculty with an inscription which reads:

Cordoba honours the famous eye specialist
Mohammed Al-Gafequi
on his 7th Centenary - 1965

Ayuntamiento de Córdoba