New Edition of the Book “Best Remedies for Bright Eyes”


The original author of Xin kan Ming mu liang fang (New edition of the book “Best remedies for bright eyes”), in two juan and in one volume, is unknown. The origin of the work is described in the preface to this edition, dated 1600, by Rao Duo, an assistant prefect of Huangzhou. Rao suffered eye troubles, attributed to his excessive reading, for which he was unable to find a cure. One of his forefathers had been given a book by an old soldier, who was known for being skilled in treating eye diseases. After reading the book three times, Rao reproduced the medications prescribed in it, took them, and regained his good sight. He thus decided to finance the reprint of the book for the benefit of other people. The work probably was printed in Huangzhou (in present-day Hubei Province), where Rao Duo was posted. Presented here is a Wanli edition (1573−1620), reprinted by the Shudetang printing workshop, the name of which appears on the cover. It has seal impressions and annotations written in red by a Japanese author, based on Yan mu shen yan fang (Miraculous recipes for eye cures), a much earlier medical work by an unknown author. Rao Duo might have used that book as the basis of his own work, with a new title. The work has an introductory juan with an overall survey of various eye diseases, and it considers the relation between eyes and organs of the human body, the so-called “five wheels and eight regions” theory, and the causes and symptoms of eye diseases. Juan 1 lists recipes and remedies, each given a name and description. Juan two discusses, in detail, the “five wheels and eight regions,” with an illustration of the main disease, 36 illustrations of diagnoses, and illustrations of 72 eye diseases. The work offers more than 190 recipes and over 200 medications, both for taking internally and as ointments. The book also has an appendix containing a brief guide to the use of the medications for various diseases. Some texts are written in seven-character verses.

Last updated: January 16, 2018