How old is cataract surgery? Twenty years? Thirty years? Actually, a form of cataract surgery was being performed over a thousand years ago!
[Warning! This post is not for the faint-hearted!]
It was in India during the eighth and ninth centuries, that special practitioners of the art of cataract removal wandered the highways of the subcontinent. The only thing that differentiated them from all the other indigent travellers was their extra long thumbnails. When they came to a town, they would advertise the fact that they could cure blindness. In those days, the major cause of blindness would be cataracts. Very very mature cataracts.
The healer would settle his vict...er...patient down, probably say something like, " Now this might sting a bit," before plunging his sharp thumbnails through the patient's corneas, and pushing the hardened, opaque lenses through the posterior capsule and into the vitreous, where they would fall to the bottom of the eye, out of the line of sight.
Once the screaming had subsided, the patient would eventually open his eyes, and for the first time in years, be able to see again. The vision would be blurred of course, but it would still be a definite improvement. The healer would receive his fee and then depart as quickly as he could without causing suspicion.
Now thumbnails are not the most hygienic of surgical instruments. Introducing them to the inside of the eyeball is never a good idea. It wouldn't take long for a raging infection to set in to the eyes, and the darkness would return permanently. By this time, the healer would be long gone with his money, and out of the reach of retribution.