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Science and medicine

Science and Medicine
Karl Koller

Karl Koller

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The pain-killing properties of cocaine were noticed by his colleague, the future psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. But it was Koller who recognised that the tissue-numbing properties of cocaine needn't be an unwanted side-effect of its use: Koller demonstrated cocaine's clinical potential as a local anaesthetic.

Cocaine molecular structure

Koller carried out early experiments on non-human animals and also on himself. Perhaps the greatest medical benefit of cocaine proved to be in eye surgery. Performing eye surgery had previously been extraordinarily difficult. This is because of the involuntary reflex movements of a patient's eye that occur in response to even the slightest touch. Koller discovered that a few drops of a solution of cocaine would overcome the problem. Cocaine also causes mydriasis dilation of the pupil.
 

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