Cocaine's use in ophthalmology: Our 100-year heritage

Adam J. Altman, Daniel M. Albert, George A. Fournier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


One hundred years ago the fledgling ophthalmologist Carl Koller demonstrated that the alkaloid cocaine was a local anesthetic suitable for rendering the eye temporarily insensible to pain. It was an event of historical significance, as his discovery opened the door not only to a new era in ophthalmic surgery, but to surgery in general. In this paper we review the ancient uses of the coca leaf, the historical events leading up to and following Koller's discovery, and the present day uses of cocaine in ophthalmology and medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-306
Number of pages7
JournalSurvey of Ophthalmology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes


  • Carl Koller
  • cocaine
  • history of ophthalmology
  • local anesthesia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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