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2400 BC in Egypt: Iry, the first ophthalmologist

Poster Details

First Author: M.Shafik Shaheen EGYPT

Co Author(s):    A. Assaf   S. Scholtz   G. Auffarth        

Abstract Details


The first ophthalmologist known to have existed seems to be Iry, a Royal Oculist who lived during the 6th Egyptian Dynasty (ca. 2400 BC). This poster will briefly reflect the information available about Iry and his achievements.


[1] University of Alexandria, Egypt [2] Ain Shams University Cairo, Egypt [3] International Vision Correction Research Centre (IVCRC), Dept. of Ophthalmology, University of Heidelberg, Germany


Selective literature research of books and journal articles via PubMed, Google and Scholar.


Not only were there many physicians in the Pyramid Age, but there were also very specialized ones. The 6th-dynasty court physician and high priest Iry, was not only 'doctor to the king's belly', 'shepherd of the king's anus' but also 'the king's eye-doctor' which was specifically mentioned. His stele was discovered in a tomb near the Great Pyramid of Cheops. Iry described several eye diseases, but did not offer remedies. Interestingly to note: 'irty' was the ancient word for 'eyes' or 'to see'.


Doctors who specialized in ophthalmology were regarded extremely high in Egyptian society and were the pride of many Pharaohs. Today, very little is known about Iry, the first ophthalmologist. Many of scientific traditions of the Greeks were probably derived from the cultures of Egypt and Mesopotamia, much has been attributed to Greek scientists because they were the first who left records of their achievements. FINANCIAL INTEREST: NONE

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