Pioneer Ophthalmologist

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Dr. Salomon Klein (seated) with his operating team

Dr. Salomon Klein was a pioneer in the field of opthalmology, a distinguished eye-surgeon, and a professor of medicine. In his time, he was regarded as "the elder statesman of opthalmology.... a master of the classical Viennese school of medicine, who strove always to uphold and further its traditions as teacher and practitioner."[1] A modern medical historian described him as "one of the most famous oculists of the Viennese medical school."[2]

Salamon Klein was born in Miskolc on August 12, 1845, the son of Samuel Klein (born Miskolc ca. 1810) and Cili Friedman (born Poland, ca. 1822). According to the 1848 Hungarian Jewish Census, his siblings included sisters Eszter (born Miskolc, ca. 1836) and Mari (born Miskolc, ca. 1840).[3] He studied medicine in Vienna, receiving his medical degree in 1870 and advanced degrees in surgery and obstetrics two years later.[4] After settling upon opthalmology as his specialty, he became the leading opthalmologist of Vienna’s General Polyclinic, the Jewish community’s Rothschild Hospital, and the Jewish School for the Blind.[5]

Described as a "successful"[6] and "masterful"[7] surgeon, Klein continued to operate until an advanced age. It was said to be "marvelous to observe the sureness with which he guided the scalpel at the age of 80."[8] As a physician, "he advocated general use of the ophthalmoscope with rectified image with particular zeal.... His ophthalmoscope studies of the mentally ill, his studies of eye disorders among sufferers of syphillis, as well as his studies of the relationship between ophthalmology and balneotherapy [use of bathing as a medical treatment] deserve particular mention."[9] He was said to have played a "leading role among Austrian balneologists."[10]

A Professor of Opthalmology at the University of Vienna,[11] Klein was considered "an excellent teacher."[12] He was a prolific author of medical works, whose textbooks on opthalmology were regarded as classics in the field and were widely adopted. Among the titles of his works were: Ophthalmology Plan for Practicing Doctors and Students and Textbook of Ophthalmology for Practicing Doctors and Students.[13]

Klein was married to Lina Adler, with whom he had seven children: Anna Ehrenstein (born 1876), Michael (1877-1918), Leopold Bernhard (1879-1929), Heinrich Victor (born 1881), Emil Adalbert (born 1882), Maria Josephina (Jenny) Molnar (born 1880), and Caecilie Margarethe Blumberg (1886-1934).[14] Salomon Klein died in Budapest on April 12, 1937, in his 92nd year.

  1. Meissner, Max, "Hofrat Professor Dr. S. Klein," Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift ["Viennese Medical Weekly Periodical"] (Vienna, 1937), p 501.
  2. Krogmann, Frank, "Das Leben und Wirken von Salomon Klein" ["The Life and Work of Salomon Klein"], Zusammenkunft der Julius-Hirschberg-Gesellschaft, 16.-18. Oktober 1997 [Summary of Meeting of the Julius Hirschberg Society, October 16-18, 1997] (Leiden)
  3. 1848 Hungarian Jewish Census, JewishGen Hungary Database
  4. Krogmann, supra.
  5. Ibid. See also Meissner, supra.
  6. Krogmann, ibid.
  7. Meissner, supra.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Krogmann, supra.
  11. "Ophthalmic News, Items and Announcements," Annals of Ophthalmology: A Quarterly Journal and Review of Ophthalmic Science (St. Louis: Jones H. Parker, 1903), volume 12, p. 191.
  12. Krogmann, supra.
  13. Grundriss der Augenheilkunde für praktische Ärzte und Studirende (1881) and Lehrbuch der Augenheilkunde: Für praktische Aerzte und Studirende (1886), both published in Vienna by Urban & Schwarzenberg. As the Meissner obituary, supra, refers only to one textbook, it is possible that these are two differently titled editions of the same work.
  14. Information on Klein's children provided by Irene Newhouse, who is related to Klein by marriage.