Georg Joseph Beer
Biography of Georg Joseph Beer
Georg Joseph Beer first studied theology, but soon changed to medicine, receiving his doctorate in 1786. Under Joseph Barth (1745-1818) he devoted himself with particular enthusiasm to ophthalmology, without neglecting his other studies. Thus, for some time he successfully conducted investigations on the developmental history of anatomy. His relationship with Barth, however, never seems to have been very close; he later referred to his four years with Barth as his years of torture (Barth - mentor and tormentor). Their relationship ended with a final break caused by Barth's favouring of Johann Adam Schmidt (1759-1809), of future fame as an ophthalmologist.
Out of Barth's realm Beer began his own and independent work as an ophthalmologist. This was not at all easy, however, as Barth did his best to obstruct his work and even publicly expressed his doubts of Beers qualifications. Despite this Beer was able to build a successful practice, and became a popular teacher, attracting several of the next generation of giants in the field. Among his students were Philipp Franz von Walther, Carl Ferdinand von Graefe (1787-1840), Johann Nepomuk Fischer (1777-1847), Konrad Johann Martin Langenbeck (1776-1851), Anton von Rosas (1791-1855), Maximilian Joseph von Chelius (1794-1876), Francesco Flarer (1791-1850), Karl Christoph Friedrich von Jaeger (1775-1858), and Christoph Friedrich Jaeger Ritter von Jaxtthal (1784-1871) - his future son in Law.
His teaching activity took on such proportions and was so highly reputed, that i 1812 the government decided to establish an extraordinary chair of ophthalmology - to which Beer was appointed. Unfortunately he was not able to exercise his duties in this chair for a very long time, as he in 1818 suffered a stroke that incapacitated him for work, and which caused his death in 1821.
Beer was undisputedly one of the gurus of ophthalmology in his time, and must be reckoned as one of the more prominent representatives of this discipline. Unable to liberate himself from the peculiar physiologic-pathological views of his time, he strived to liberate ophthalmology from the grip of strictly dogmatic views, and to found it on a solid basis of careful observations. His textbook of ophthalmology was to have a great impact on this medical speciality. His works on the history of ophthalmology, however, were coldly received and leave much to be desired, as he judged all previous epochs on an absolute scale against the most update of works in the field.
- Praktische Beobachtungen über verschiedene, vorzüglich aber über jene Augenkrankheiten, welche aus allgemeinen Krankheiten des Körpers entspringen.
3 copper tables, of which 2 colored.
Wien, Kaiserer Franz Jakub, 1791. 392 pages.
Offered in March 2000 for Sfr. 1.000.
"This is the first monograph ever published dealing with ocular signs of systemic disease. It deals with lacrimal fistulas, trichiasis, adhesions of the lids, lid ulcers, epiphora, and ocular inflammations. He illustrates through anecdotal cases the ocular changes caused by smallpox, measles, venereal afflictions, gout and rheumatic diseases, scrofula, and dietary deficiencies" (D. M. Albert).
- Praktische Beobachtungen über den grauen Staar und die Krankheiten der Hornhaut. Illustrated. Vienna, 1791.
- Lehre von den Augenkrankheiten, als Leitfaden zu seinen öffentlichen Vorlesungen entworfen.
2 volumes. Vienna, 1792.
New edition, Wien, Camesina; Heubner & Volke, 1813-1817.
Beer is remembered for his textbook. The doctrines in it dominated practice for many years. He described the symptoms of glaucoma and noted the luminosity of the fundus in aniridia. He also presented for the first time the general principles of treating post-traumatic inflammations, including penetrating and perforating injuries as well as injuries to the orbit. He described the first use of the loupe for the examination of the living eye. The plates in this work were both hand-coloured and signed by Beer. He was a distinguished iridectomist. Many of his pupils became famous ophthalmic surgeons. Beer opened the first known eye hospital, in 1786, in Vienna. He was the first Jew to graduate in Austria. English translation, Glasgow, 1821.
- Methode, den grauen Staar mit der Kapsel auszuziehen, nebst einigen anderen Verbesserungen der Staaroperation überhaupt. Vienna, 1799.
- Bibliotheca ophthalmica; Repertorium aller bis zu Ende des Jahres 1797 erschienen Schriften über die Augenkrankheiten.
3 parts, Vienna, 1799, 1800.
- Pflege gesunder und und geschwächter Augen, nebst einer Vorschrift, wie man sich bei plötzlichen Zufällen an den Augen, welche nicht eine eigentliche medicinisch-chirurgische Kenntniss fordern, selbst helfen kann.
Vienna and Leipzig, 1800.
- Auswahl aus dem Tagebuch eines praktischen Arztes.
- Ansicht der staphylomatösen Metamorphose des Auges und der künstlichen Pupillenbildung. Vienna, 1805.
- Das Auge, oder Versuch das edelste Geschenk der Schöpfung vor dem höchst verderblichen Einflüssen unseres Zeitalters zu sichern.
With copperplates. Vienna, 1813.
- Geschichte der Augenkunde überhaupt und Augenheilkunde insbesondere. Vienna, 1813.
- Uebersicht aller Vorfälle in dem öffentlichen klinischen Institute für die Augenkrankheiten an der k. k. Universität zu Wien.
- Georg Preyss, Rede zum Andenken Georg Joseph Beer’s in der Sitzung des Doctoren-Coll. zu Wien, 18. April 1857.
Supplement (Beilage) to Oesterreichische Zeitschrift.