IN the British Journal of Homoeopathy, for 1847, vol.v., p. 224 et seq., there is a very able article on this subject by the late Dr. Henry V. Malan. This writer considers the primary cause of cataract to be a psoric taint in the constitution, and asserts that all constitutional cataracts are from a psoric cause.
This, of course does not apply to traumatic cataract, and not necessarily to those of inflammatory origin.
Dr. Malan continues. “Many circumstances accompanying the formation of the cataract render the surgical treatment, if left to itself, either impossible or most difficult; for that reason the attempt has frequently been made to find a medical one. According to Vidal de Cassis (Pathologie Externe, Paris. 1840), none have been found except in some rare cases, and then only for the inflammatory and recent cataracts. The French surgeon Velpeau corroborates this statement, and tells us that some cures have been made by revulsives to the skin, setons, moxas, etc., and that “it is only by revulsion that the cures of some cataracts in their infancy have been made; but that these cures, after all, are only the exceptions; old cataracts of the capsule, or of the lens, must always be operated on.”
“Here I (Malan) differ. The general opinion entertained on this point is not mine. I shall try to point out, in a few remarks, my reason for differing, and shall endeavour to be concise.”
“We have seen that for cataract, as for many other similar states of the human body, no better treatment has been to this day found, than surgical operation; we shall see, also, that in many cases these means prove useless; in otorrhoeas they are injurious, and often they might, with much advantage, be exchanged for homoeopathic treatment.
“I have said that surgical operation often proves useless. It is the case when the cataract is a constitutional disease; if the general health be not improved, and the disease arrested and cured by previous internal and rational treatment, the removal of the diseased organ will not cure the process of the malady any more than plucking rotten fruit from off a tree-because it is the only one as yet decayed-will remove the internal cause of disease in the tree. Too often, however, are surgical operations made on quite a similar mode of proceeding, and are, to say the least, useless. This, applied to the case of cataract, will explain why internal treatment will often be most beneficial.
“I said also that surgical operations were sometimes injurious to the general state. How often, for the same reason mentioned above, is the removal of an organ-visibly more affected than the others-really injurious to the whole body, as the internal disease, finding its outlet cut off, will often burst out in weaker but more essential organs and by this inroad into the constitution bring on rapid and inevitable death.
“In other cases, I have said that surgical operation might, with advantage, be exchanged for homoeopathic treatment. It is often so in the complete and ripe cataract, though, generally speaking, surgical operation is not injurious to it, and often cures the affection when the internal process which caused the cataract has ceased, and then this morbid product stands as an inorganic mass and in the way of the functions of the organ. Even in this most favourable case, however-the only one in which surgical operation ought to be permitted-it can often be, with much advantage, exchanged for homoeopathic treatment.
“No medicine or internal treatment has, as yet, been of any avail in confirmed and ripe cataracts; this was left for better days to medical science, and homoeopathy has given us means of cure which were totally unknown before. I do not mean to say, be it well understood, that homoeopathy will entirely supersede surgery, and that we are not to trust this latter means, or ever employ it-no; but I wish to draw attention to these three remarks only: that, firstly, in many cases, homoeopathy will cure, completely cure, real cataracts, even old and ripe ones; secondly, in many more it will prevent the progress of the cataract in the other eye, when as yet only one is affected; thirdly, that if it does not always succeed in curing, it will always, prepare the whole constitution for the surgical operation, prevent inflammatory accidents after it, and secure its success.
“This part of medical treatment has been, to this day, too much neglected, because, to our eyes this more or less ex-organic body seemed not fit for medical treatment, and because our ears have been accustomed to hear that surgical operation only is of any use we have left aside the internal treatment, which will often be crowned with far more success than is generally expected. Not the least process in the human body, morbid or natural, can take place without the whole constitution taking some part in it. We cannot expect that an organ of the body, be it ever so small can become affected quite independently of the organism, but rather that it becomes affected in consequence of a morbid process existing, though not seen, in the organism itself. I am as far from admitting such confined notions, as I would be right to admit that the very same organ has no common tie with the rest of the body, and is not one constituent part of it, by its nerves, its vessels, and all its texture.
“If, therefore, one part of the body is diseased, we must not direct our treatment to it solely, and use what is called local treatment alone. We must act on the whole constitution in the same way as we would direct our attention to the whole tree when it bears decayed fruit. In this case, and for this very simple reason, it is not only advisable, but necessary, to have internal treatment, and this way of attending to disease will prevent many a failure, and the harm which might ensue from local treatment. In a case of cataract, therefore, the whole constitution must be acted upon, as in all diseases. Our Materia Medica has many a remedy against such a state.”
The remedies reckoned the most important by Dr. Malan are Sulph., Silicea, Causticum, Cann. Sat., Phosph., Calc and Conium.
The cause is psora; the remedies principally antipsorics. Accidental symptoms to be removed by apsorics.
He concludes: “It is not possible to say that, in this or that species of cataract, this or that remedy will cure. The tout ensemble of the symptoms must always decide us in the choice of the remedy; and in all cases, no second remedy is to be given before the first has exhausted its action.”
Dr. Malan’s cases:
CASE I.-In the spring of 1841, a lady of about sixty years of age applied for homoeopathic treatment, and came to my notice under the following circumstances: She had for two or three years past gradually lost the sight, first of one eye and then of the other-both affected with cataract, now complete-and had for some months previous entirely lost her sight. Monsieur Maunoir, whose name is authority in such matters, had advised the operation to be made as the season was favourable; he considered the case to be one of complete and ripe cataract of the lens. However, the lady being strongly advised by her friends to apply to homoeopathy, and as she could not better employ the intermediate time until the operation could take place, she called in an old homoeopathic practitioner, whom I joined later. He prescribed Silicea, then Cann. Sat., and then Sulph., and the cataract improved so rapidly that the patient, after a few month’s treatment, travelled to a distant country, Russia, and from thence she wrote to me that, her sight having still continued to improve, she was now enjoying it as completely as she could ever expect at her age.
CASE II.-In November, 1844, a man of strong constitution and lymphatic temperament, fifty-one years of age, applied to me under the following circumstances: He had had cataract of the right eye, ripe for some years, and one of the left, which had been ripe only a few months. Mons. Maunoir had operated on the right eye three times, but without any success; the third operation took place four weeks before applying to me. Ever since, the patient had suffered from a violent inflammation of the whole eye; the sclerotica was much injected, the cornea opaque: there was great photophobia, a constant discharge of tears, and complete loss of sight. Besides, the eye-ball had partially emptied itself, the patient had lost his appetite; there was great thirst and much fever.
I prescribed Aconite (3/5) pulv. ij., next day Belladonna (2/20), a teaspoonful three times a day until amelioration.
On the 15th of November there was a great change, but the cornea remained opaque, the eye-ball partly shrunk, and the patient was made aware of the complete loss of that eye. Merc, Sol. (3/15).
On November 22, all the inflammatory symptoms of the right eye had disappeared; the left one presented a thick whitish opacity of the lens; the pupil was dilated, but mobile. The patient had certainly lost the sight of the right eye, and with the left he could only distinguish day from night, but was unable to guide himself. He was led about by his servant. Sulph. (3/30) was given dry on tongue.