William Mackenzie (ophthalmologist)

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William MacKenzie
Born April 1791
Glasgow, Scotland
Died July 1868
Residence Scotland
Nationality Scottish
Fields Ophthalmologist
Institutions University of Glasgow
Anderson's College Medical School
Alma mater University of Glasgow
Doctoral advisor Georg Joseph Beer
Notable students Thomas Wharton Jones

William Mackenzie (April 1791 – July 1868) was a Scottish ophthalmologist. He wrote Practical Treatise of the Diseases of the Eye, one of the first British textbooks of ophthalmology.


Mackenzie was born in Queen Street, Glasgow, and studied medicine at the University of Glasgow and the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. From 1840 to 1848 he studied in London and continental Europe. He obtained his MD under Georg Joseph Beer at the University of Vienna, and returned to Britain in 1848. In 1849, he settled in Glasgow and began practice as a physician. In this year he also he took up the anatomy chair at Anderson's College Medical School. With George Monteath, the chief oculist of Glasgow, he founded the Glasgow Eye Infirmary in 1850. He was appointed Waltonian lecturer and lecturer on diseases of the eye at the University of Glasgow in 1852, and wrote Practical Treatise of the Diseases of the Eye, which became a standard text after its first edition was published in 1853.[1] This text may include the first discussion of the increase of pressure in the eye during glaucoma.[2] Mackenzie also served as editor of the Glasgow Medical Journal for two years.[1]

He was appointed surgeon-oculist to the queen in Scotland in 1858. He died at Glasgow, of angina pectoris, on 30 July 1868, leaving a widow and one son.[3]

MacKenzie was the mentor of Thomas Wharton Jones, leading to a significant scientific genealogy including physicists such as Paul Dirac and Stephen Hawking. The University of Auckland awards a MacKenzie Medal.[4]

Selected publications

  • An appeal to the public and to the legislature, on the necessity of affording dead bodies to the schools of anatomy by legislative enactment, Glasgow: Robertson and Atkinson, 1824.
  • A practical treatise on the diseases of the eye, London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green, 1830; American ed., Boston: Carter, Hendee and Co., 1833; 2nd ed., London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, & Longman, 1835; 3rd ed., with Thomas Wharton Jones, London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, & Longmans, 1840; 4th ed., with Thomas Wharton Jones, London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1854; American ed., based on 4th British ed., edited by Addinell Hewson, Philadelphia: Blanchard and Lea, 1855.
  • The physiology of vision, London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, & Longsmans, 1841.


  1. 1.0 1.1 William Mackenzie, 1815-1868, in Memoirs and portraits of one hundred Glasgow men, James MacLehose, pub. 1886, accessed online 28-I-2007.
  2. Keeler, R. (2002). "Antique ophthalmic instruments and books: the Royal College Museum". British Journal of Ophthalmology. 89: 712–714. doi:10.1136/bjo.86.7.712.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3.  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainPower, D'Arcy (1893). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2FMackenzie%2C_William_%281815-1868%29_%28DNB00%29 "Mackenzie, William (1815-1868)" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 35. London: Smith, Elder & Co.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Translational Vision Research in the Department of Ophthalmology". The University of Auckland. Retrieved 8 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Andrew Freeland Fergus, Sketch of the Life of William McKenzie, M.D. 1815-1868, Her Majesty's Oculist for Scotland, London, 1917.
  • Archibald McLellan Wright Thomson, The Life and Times of Dr William McKenzie: Founder of the Glasgow Eye Infirmary, The University Press, Glasgow, 1973.

External links