Johann Friedrich Horner

Johann Friedrich Horner (1831 – 1886) was an Swiss ophthalmologist.

Foremost clinical teacher relating diseases of the eye to other disorders of the body

Competent eye surgeon performing over 2000 cataract operations with reduced complication rate following his introduction of aseptic techniques. Performed the first Z-plasty for correction of ectropion (1837)

Horner syndrome, was so named following his 1869 description of the condition. Identified sex linked transmission for red-green colour blindness


  • Born in Zurich 27th March 1831
  • 1854 – Graduated Medical school – University of Zurich
  • 1855 – Studied the use of the ophthalmoscope in Vienna with Eduard Jaeger Ritter von Jaxtthal
  • 1856 – Became assistant to Albrecht von Graefe furthering ophthalmology studies
  • 1856 – Founded the University of Zurich ophthalmology clinic which then became an independent clinic the ‘Hottinghof’
  • 1867 – Introduced regular examinations of the eyes of schoolchildren
  • 1862 – Named Professor of Ophthalmology
  • 1876 – Horner established that “a man with a red-green colour blindness transmitted this anomaly to his male grandchildren through his daughter who was not colour blind (sex linked transmission)
  • Died in Zurich 20th December 1886 aged 55

Key Medical Attributions:

  • Horner syndrome (1869) classic triad of ipsilateral ptosis, miosis and anhidrosis (+/- enophthalmos)
  • Horner muscle – lacrimal portion of the orbicularis oculi muscle (tensor tarsi muscle)
  • Horner-Trantas spots – punctiform yellow-white calcified concretions of the conjunctiva around the corneal limbus associated with vernal keratoconjunctivitis

Major Publications


  • Shinohara, H. The anatomy of the lacrimal portion of the orbicularis oculi muscle (tensor tarsi or Horner’s muscle). Okajimas Folia Anat Jpn. 2001 Mar;77(6):225-32 [PMID 11392011]
  • Borges, AF. The original Z-plasty. British Journal of Plastic Surgery. 26 (3): 237–246.[JPRAS 1973]
  • Koczman, J. Vernal Keratoconjunctivitis. uiowa Eye Rounds 2007. [Internet Archive]

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the person behind the name

Associate Professor Curtin Medical School, Curtin University. Emergency physician MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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