Delta, Hippus, Phthisis, It’s All Greek to Us

Posted by: West Georgia Eye Care Center in Frontpage Article on September 2, 2021

The Delta variant of COVID-19 is reportedly responsible for nearly all of the recently diagnosed coronavirus cases in the Muscogee County area, and the use of its name is becoming widespread.  There have been more than a few misleading reports regarding how it got its name in the first place.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the naming of COVID-19 variants is simply based on the letters of the Greek alphabet.  Nothing more sinister than Alpha, Beta, Chi, Delta; as easy as the ABC’s.

Medical Terminology – 

It is not surprising that WHO would choose nomenclature with a Greek origin.  Most of the medical terminology used today is derived from Greek and Latin languages.  Hippocrates was an ancient Greek physician (460 – 370 BC) who is credited with the first specific ophthalmic terms, many of which are remarkably still in use today – a long-standing tradition.  Need a good medical name for something novel?  Go to the ancient Greeks.

Hippocrates’ Contribution – 

Hippocrates is probably most popularly known for writing the original Hippocratic Oath, which many physician graduates recite upon completion of medical school.  He also originated the term amblyopia, a long word for what we commonly refer to as “lazy eye”.  Some of his terms sound like something entirely different than what you would imagine in the English language; like “hippus”, the term for a tremoring movement of the iris, commonly described as a pulsating pupil.  Even more difficult and nearly impossible to sound out at all are words like “phthisis” – a diagnostic term for a collapsed and scarred eye.

Clearly Stated – 

No wonder medical jargon is so hard to understand! Don’t worry!  If you are not a Greek scholar, we can translate for you!  West Georgia Eye Care Center is committed to clearly communicating to patients (in everyday language!) the answers to their questions and concerns.

If you have questions about your last eye exam with us, help is just a phone call away at (706) 323 3491!