Some general observations on Ophthalmology in the NI:
De Vereeniging tot verbetering van het lot der blinden in NI was founded in 1906. It actively pursued the aim to fight all kinds of eye diseases by encouraging preventive, especially hygienic measures. In 1890 almost 10,000 civilian eye patients had bene treated, ranking the 5th in frequency among the categories of diseases. Because of the poor hygienic circumstances many inflammations of the conjunctiva were seen and needed surgical intervention. Many children were victims of trachoma*, a chronic inflammation leading to blindness, if untreated. In some parts of the archipelago, trachoma was found in more than 20 % of the population. The northern part of Java, the Moluccas and Atjeh were the regions that were most strongly affected. Besides trachoma, cataract*, avitaminose and venereal diseases caused a lot of blindness. The travelling ophthalmologists J.Tijssen and J.G van Manen tried to relieve the burden of eye problems with the population. Van Tijssen, Westhoff and P.Wijn started also eye clinics for permanent patient care. By 1940, about 25 eye specialists could be found in the entire archipelago and eleven eye clinics were operating, nine of them on Java and two on Sumatra.
The ophthalmologist J.Tijssen started an eye clinic at Meulaboh ((Aceh) in 1932. T
The same doctor Tijssen embarked on an expedition in Kediri (East Java) to perform trachoma operations.
He managed to perform 1,860 operations in 111 days on 1,084 patients.
Dr. Thijssen travelled together with 1 surgical mantri, 2 male nurses, 1 cook, 1 house-boy and 1 cleaner. They were paid by a subsidy of ten guilders per day, granted by the Department of the Interior.
The medicines were paid by the patients, but their treatment was provided gratis.
(See Verslag ‘Oogheelkunde in de kampong’, GTNI 1932 (72) 1788-1793).
Zie KITLV beeldbank 1932; 18672