Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine


{footnote} The following is a description of the laryngeal formation of a singer who has recently acquired considerable notice by her ability to sing notes of the highest tones and to display the greatest compass of voice. It is extracted from a Cleveland, Ohio, newspaper: "She has unusual development of the larynx, which enables her to throw into vibration and with different degrees of rapidity the entire length of the vocal cords or only a part thereof. But of greatest interest is her remarkable control over the muscles which regulate the division and modification of the resonant cavities, the laryngeal, pharyngeal, oral, and nasal, and upon this depends the quality of her voice. The uvula is bifurcated, and the two divisions sometimes act independently. The epiglottis during the production of the highest notes rises upward and backward against the posterior pharyngeal wall in such a way as almost entirely to separate the pharyngeal cavities, at the same time that it gives an unusual conformation to those resonant chambers."Complete absence of the eyes is a very rare anomaly. Wordsworth describes a baby of seven weeks, otherwise well formed and healthy, which had congenital absence of both eyes. The parents of this child were in every respect healthy. There are some cases of monstrosities with closed, adherent eyelids and absence of eyes. Holmes reports a case of congenital absence of both eyes, the child otherwise being strong and perfect. The child died of cholera infantum. He also reports a case very similar in a female child of American parents. In a girl of eight, of German parents, he reports deficiency of the external walls of each orbit, in addition to great deformity of the side of the head. He also gives an instance of congenital paralysis of the levator palpebrae muscles in a child whose vision was perfect and who was otherwise perfect. Holmes also reports a case of enormous congenital exophthalmos, in which the right eye protruded from the orbit and was no longer covered by the cornea. Kinney has an account of a child born without eyeballs. The delivery was normal, and there was no history of any maternal impression; the child was otherwise healthy and well formed.

Landes reports the case of an infant in which both eyes were absent. There were six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. The child lived a few weeks. In some instances of supposed absence of the eyeball the eye is present but diminutive and in the posterior portion of the orbit. There are instances of a single orbit with no eyes and also a single orbit containing two eyes. Again we may have two orbits with an absence of eyes but the presence of the lacrimal glands, or the eyes may be present or very imperfectly developed. Mackenzie mentions cases in which the orbit was more or less completely wanting and a mass of cellular tissue in each eye.

Cases of living cyclopia, or individuals with one eye in the center of the forehead after the manner of the mythical Cyclops, are quite rare. Vallentini in 1884 reports a case of a male cyclopic infant which lived for seventy-three hours. There were median fissures of the upper lip, preauricular appendages, oral deformity, and absence of the olfactory proboscis The fetus was therefore a cyclops arrhynchus, or cyclocephalus. Blok describes a new-born infant which lived for six or seven hours, having but one eye and an extremely small mouth.

The "Four-eyed Man of Cricklade" was a celebrated English monstrosity of whom little reliable information is obtainable. He was visited by W. Drury, who is accredited with reporting the following--" 'So wondrous a thing, such a lusus naturae, such a scorn and spite of nature I have never seen. It was a dreadful and shocking sight.' This unfortunate had four eyes placed in pairs, 'one eye above the other and all four of a dull brown, encircled with red, the pupils enormously large.' The vision in each organ appeared to be perfect. 'He could shut any particular eye, the other three remaining open, or, indeed, as many as he chose, each several eye seeming to be controlled by his will and acting independently of the remainder. He could also revolve each eye separately in its orbit, looking backward with one and forward with another, upward with one and downward with another simultaneously.' He was of a savage, malignant disposition, delighting in ugly tricks, teasing children, torturing helpless animals, uttering profane and blasphemous words, and acting altogether like the monster, mental and physical, that he was. 'He could play the fiddle, though in a silly sort, having his notes on the left side, while closing the right pair of eyes. He also sang, but in a rough, screeching voice not to be listened to without disgust.'"There is a recent report of a child born in Paris with its eyes in the top of its head. The infant seemed to be doing well and crowds of people have flocked to see it. Recent reports speak of a child born in Portland, Oregon, which had a median rudimentary eye between two normal eyes. Fournier describes an infant born with perfectly formed eyes, but with adherent eyelids and closed ocular aperture. Forlenze has seen the pupils adherent to the conjunctiva, and by dissection has given sight to the subject.

Dubois cites an instance of supernumerary eyelid. At the external angle of the eyelid was a fold of conjunctiva which extended 0.5cm. in front of the conjunctiva, to which it did not adhere, therefore constituting a fourth eyelid. Fano presents a similar case in a child of four months, in whom no other anomaly, either of organs or of vision, was observed. On the right side, in front of the external half of the sclerotic, was observed a semilunar fold with the concavity inward, and which projected much more when the lower lid was depressed. When the eyelid rolled inward the fold rolled with the globe, but never reached so far as the circumference of the cornea and did not interfere with vision.