Article Text

Download PDFPDF
John Vetch and his trachoma battles
  1. Richard Keeler,
  2. Arun D Singh,
  3. Harminder S Dua

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

This narration gives a brief account of a British Physician John Vetch (1783–1835) who battled against trachoma largely contracted in the battlefield and had to fight a personal battle in the process.

The word ‘ophthalmia’ is used to describe inflammation of the eye especially of the conjunctiva, and is used interchangeably with the word ‘ophthalmitis’. A book entitled An Account of the Ophthalmia, written by John Vetch and published in 1807 (figure 1) established Vetch's reputation as an expert in the ophthalmias, and made him famous. This report is a fundamental part of the history of purulent ocular inflammation. In 1820 he published another book entitled A Practical Treatise on Diseases of the Eye (Cover image of this issue of the BJO and figure 2). The legend for the colour plate on the cover reads “represents a case of purulent Ophthalmia, in which the external oedema has …

View Full Text


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.