So recently I was in Richmond and visited the excellent Museum Of The Confederacy and the Confederate White House.
Now I had always thought Davis was blind in one eye, but the tour guide at the CWH set the record straight for me.
Seems Jeff did have an eye problem, not blindness. So once a day his wife Varina got a eyedropper, filled it with a mixture of mercury and ammonia(!!), and dripped it into Davis' eye! The guide said Jeff would have to lie down and then suffer a serious headache for several hours!!
Mercury and ammonia? Are they absolutely sure he wasn't blind in that eye? I mean the cure to me sounds like it would have induced blindness. Wonder what he died of. Also wonder how much mercury gets into your system before you get mercury poisoning. Although I don't entirely understand how eye drops work (ie whether or not they don't partially seap into your body somehow), I'd have thought a little mercury might have run down his face and maybe gotten into his mouth where he would have swallowed it whether he intended to or not.
Davis was vacationing in Maine in the 1850's when his eye problem developed
I dont know the clinical name for it
I always thought he was blind, until the guide told me different
The mercury/ammonia mix really threw me
I mentioned this to someone and they said they'd read mercury had been used for this purpose either as far back as the Renissance or the Middle Ages.
I don't know though, just seems shocking that Davis lived as long as he did with this kind of "medicine." Again I don't know exactly how much mercury has to build up in the system before you suffer mercury posioning. But I'd figure at least some of the mercury after each treatment would have gone down his face and into his mouth And he died in 1889 Was he taking these drops every day for the rest of his life after his eye problem began? It's just really weird to me anyone could live that long with this kinda of treatment. But then we know things they didn't about some of the things that they used a good deal and we tend to stay away from it in certain forms.
Mr. Davis' eye problem became severe in 1851 and plagued him for the rest of his life. Doctors nowadays believe that the problem was a herpes simplex infection of the cornea of the left eye, which is known as herpetic keratitis.
Apparently, there is a connection between this viral condition and malaria, which Mr. Davis had had before, and apparently had again in 1851. He reported redness, a tearing sensation, and decreased vision. The condition can, and apparently did, recur from time to time.
His condition might have advanced to metaherpic keratoiritis, which involves a disintegration of the cornea and the protrusion of a membrane forward due to the pressure within the eye. Apparently, Mr. Davis saw little out of his left eye in his later years.