• Ana Maria Rosso ISHM


In Ancient Egypt, light and fire, which were closely related to the Sun God Ra, were the sources of life and well-being, while the dark meant danger and death. Similar to death, darkness drops on human beings in deep sleep and they enter a space inhabited by shadows. Dreams were believed to reveal an unknown world, to give the sleeper a glimpse into the future. Vision attracts distant objects and their light, on the other hand, can hurt the eyes like a burning flame. Eyes were the most important organ in Egyptian thought, as they allowed perception of the real world. Their importance has been immortalised in the myth of the Eye of Horus that explains the role of either eye. One represents the moonlight, which disperses the darkness of the night, and the other represents the sunshine, which creates life, and both could also represents the power of human intellect. Blindess, in turn, congenital or disease-related, was considered a divine punishment. A man, thus handicapped, would sink in a state of uncertainty and darkness. To protect the eyes from blindness, people used drops and ointments, which were believed to chase away all kinds of insects and demons that threatened with a variety of eye infections. Egyptian eye doctors or physicians, carried a special kit that contained green chrysocolla and a black kohl makeup, highly appreciated as prophylaxis because they personified Osiris' humours or body fluids. These products were offered to Gods to restore the brightness of divine glance and incite sun and moon to spread their beneficial light.

Key words: History of ophthalmology, light, blindness, Ancient Egypt