Albrecht von Graefe, MD

  • Presented: 
  • Recognition: 
    ASCRS Ophthalmology Hall of Fame


“It is hard to imagine one whose techniques were adopted by more surgeons and utilized over a broader period of time.”
—Douglas D. Koch, MD

Albrecht von Graefe is regarded as the greatest German ophthalmologist of the 19th century. The son of an ophthalmologist, he founded an eye hospital in Berlin that became the center of many of the progressive ophthalmic developments of his time. An early user of the first ophthalmoscopes, Graefe began describing the fundus of the eye in various diseased states, work that was critical to his realization of the role intraocular pressure plays in glaucoma. He classified acute, chronic, and “simple” glaucoma and later added to his classification disorders that led to secondary glaucoma. His most lasting contribution to ophthalmology was the development of iridectomy to treat acute glaucoma. Graefe is also well remembered for his approach to cataract extraction—an infection-reducing linear incision in the upper limbus—and the slender knife he designed to make the incision. These were adopted by surgeons around the world in the mid-1800s and remained in use for nearly a century. Accepting the award on behalf of Albrecht von Graefe: Paul U. Fechner, MD