3 February 2016

Giuseppe Forlenza – eye surgeon

Napoleon recognised brilliance of eye specialist

This portrait of Giuseppe Forlenza by Jacques-Antoine Vallin is  housed in London's National Gallery
This portrait of Giuseppe Forlenza
by Jacques-Antoine Vallin is
housed in London's National Gallery
Giuseppe Forlenza, an important 18th century ophthalmologist and surgeon, was born on this day in 1757 in Picerno in the province of Potenza.

He became famous for performing successful cataract surgery and for his treatment of eye diseases.

Forlenza was born in the region of Basilicata, which at that time was part of the Kingdom of Naples. His father and two uncles were all surgeons.

He went to Naples and then on to France to study surgery. He spent two years gaining experience at St George’s Hospital in London and then returned to France where he concentrated on treating eye diseases.

Forlenza carried out eye surgery at a retirement home in Paris and performed many remarkable operations on soldiers returning from fighting in Egypt who were suffering from eye problems.

He was recognised as a leading eye surgeon by Napoleon, who in a royal decree assigned him to treat eye disease throughout France.

Forlenza eventually returned to Italy where he performed many free operations in Turin and Rome and he wrote what was considered at the time to be a forward thinking medical work about the treatment of eye disease.

Forlenza died in 1833 in Paris at the age of 76.

A tower still survives from Potenza's ancient castle
A surviving tower from an ancient
castle is an attraction in Potenza
Travel tip:

Potenza is the capital of the Basilicata region in southern Italy, built on high ground overlooking a valley in the Apennine mountains of Lucania. A tower from an old castle and three gates from the former city walls still remain and there are the ruins of a Roman villa to see.

Travel tip:

The University of Naples was founded in 1224 by the Emperor Frederick II. One of its most famous students was the theologian and philosopher Thomas Aquinas who went on to lecture there in the 13th century. A former college built in the 16th century in Via Paladino, in the area of Spaccanapoli, has been the main university building since 1777.


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