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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 75:1345 doi:10.1136/jnnp.2003.014225
  • Historical note

The Argyll Robertson pupil

  1. J M S Pearce
  1. 304 Beverley Road, Anlaby, Hull HU10 7BG; jmspearce@freenet.co.uk

      In 1869 Douglas Moray Cooper Lamb Argyll Robertson described his famous pupillary sign in two papers:

      “I could not observe any contraction of either pupil under the influence of light, but, on accommodating the eyes for a near object, both pupils contracted.”1,2

      Argyll Robertson was one of the first surgeons to specialise in ophthalmology. Pupillary miosis, inequality, and irregularity, without reaction to light, had been known in cases of tabes dorsalis and dementia paralytica (GPI) since the end of the 18th century.

      Ernst Julius Remak had shown the pupillary signs of tabes to Argyll Robertson,3 whose later famous reports of 1869 acknowledged Remak’s observation of the miotic pupil, its defective reaction to light, and preserved contraction on accommodation. Romberg (1839) also gave an …