Louis de Wecker
Relationship with Rizal
During the late 19th century, studying the field of ophthalmology was a separate specialty even if there are no organized residency programs. During this period, most trainings are done through the guidance of a well-renounced professor. One of the very reason why Jose Rizal was stimulated to study ophthalmology simply because of Dona Theodora’s falling eyesight and his own desire to help her.
For the first time, he was taught under the famous French ophthalmologist, Louis de Wecker. Even if de Wecker did not held any academic position, he is still known as being a prolific author and active teacher at the same time. De Wecker introduced advanced ocular surgery and ophthalmoscopy into France. He was able to modified cataract and sclerotomy.
With Dr. Loise de Wecker’s skills in surgery, Rizal was very amazed and with his kind of experience and he felt that his training as an oculist was systematically fit. However, because of the expensive cost of living in Paris, Jose Rizal was forced to have his ophthalmological trainings in Germany where the cost of living is not as expensive as Paris, but it is more reasonable enough. In the same letter he wrote: With respect to the study of the ailment of the eyes, I am doing well: I now know how to perform all the operations; I only need to know what is going on inside the eye, which requires much practice. In Germany, I am told that this is taught well, but one has to be registered and pay a sum of 10$ a month. . . . If I see that, in effect, the cost of living is cheap, I will have myself registered, and if it is not I will see to it that two or three months will suffice for me. In six months, I hope to speak German, study a profession, continue my specialty; in five, living among Filipinos, I have learned French.
In 1887, on his way to Dr. de Wecker’s clinic, Rizal took time to travel Europe and visit other prominent optalmologist and scientists. Among them he visited in Vienna Ernst Fuchs, a well recognized ophthalmologist. Rudolph Virchow, known widely as the father of pathology, invited him to be a part of the Berlin Anthropological Society.
Jose Rizal worked as Wecker’s clinical assistant.
- Rizal's travels in Europe  (Accessed August 11, 2011)
- Rizal, Philippine national hero (Accessed August 11, 2011)