"Alas! How could I declare the weakness of a sense which in me ought to be more acute than in others..."

by Ludwig van Beethoven (1802)

Ophthalmology and otolaryngology are fairly modern medical specialties, though physicians have always been faced with the challenge of treating patients with disorders of the head and neck. Early therapy for the loss of vision and hearing was largely ineffective, and barber-surgeons did their best to repair the consequences of trauma in battle. It was not until the middle of the nineteenth century and the discoveries of anesthesia and aseptic techniques that physicians began to take a special interest in this area of the body since they could finally offer their patients a reasonably painless experience with some hope of survival.