February 2021
Volume 10, Issue 2
Open Access
Letters to the Editor  |   February 2021
Ibn-al-Nafis: An Ophthalmologist Who First Correctly Described the Circulatory System
Author Affiliations
  • Shandiz Tehrani
    Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA. e-mail: tehrani@ohsu.edu
Translational Vision Science & Technology February 2021, Vol.10, 17. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.10.2.17
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    • Get Citation

      Shandiz Tehrani; Ibn-al-Nafis: An Ophthalmologist Who First Correctly Described the Circulatory System. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2021;10(2):17. https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.10.2.17.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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I read with interest the TVST editorial by Dr. Van Gelder1 on physician-scientists in vision research. Kudos to Dr. Van Gelder for calling attention to this important subject matter. 
Given my interest in the history of medicine, I had some background knowledge into many of the early clinician-scientists mentioned in the first paragraph of this editorial. Of note, although William Harvey is credited with elucidating the circulatory system, many medical historians would cite Ibn-al-Nafis, an Arab physician from the 1200s, who first challenged Galen's and Avicenna's centuries-old and incorrect assumptions about human circulation. Ibn-al-Nafis correctly mapped the pulmonary circulation and disproved the previously held dogma that blood passes through invisible holes between the right and left sides of the heart.2 And to top it all off, he was a prominent ophthalmologist by training.3 
After personal correspondence with Dr. Van Gelder regarding the above information, he kindly suggested that I write to you “so others don't make this mistake.” 
Van Gelder RN. The clinician-scientist in vision science: a rare and endangered species. Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2020; 9(12): 33. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Numan MT. Ibn Al Nafis: his seminal contributions to cardiology. Pediatr Cardiol. 2014; 35: 1088–1090. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Loukas M, Lam R, Tubbs RS, Shoja MM, Apaydin N. Ibn al-Nafis (1210–1288): the first description of the pulmonary circulation. Am Surg. 2008; 74: 440–442. [CrossRef] [PubMed]

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