Five Ways Microscopes Have Helped Further Modern Medicine

Since Robert Hooke combined two lenses to invent the first compound microscope, science in general and medicine has advanced greatly. As a result of understanding life on the cellular level, we have developed the germ theory, modern antiseptic techniques, microsurgery, advanced diagnostics, and the development of various medicines to combat disease.

End of Spontaneous Generation and Rise of the Germ Theory

The ability to magnify tissues and cells beyond what the human eye can see helped develop the germ theory. As scientists observed cells with earlier microscopes, they learned about cellular division. Seeing that cells come from cells put an end to the idea of spontaneous generation and gave scientists and physicians the building blocks to prevent disease.

Development of Antiseptic Technique

Once physicians understood that disease was not a spontaneous event, they were able to discover ways to eliminate disease causing micro-organisms. By studying the effect of various materials on the life and growth of cells, scientists and physicians learned what compounds provided a germ killing effect. Antiseptic technique is key in preventing spread of infectious disease as well as preventing surgical infections.

Advances in Surgical Treatment

Advances in surgical capabilities have brought advances in treatment not possible before. Without the microscope, severed fingers and other parts of the body were almost impossible to reattach. Now, microsurgery allows the reconnection of minute blood vessels and nerves. Tiny needles and sutures have been developed to allow the procedures.

Impact on Pharmacology

Microscopes are also integral in the development of new medicines. Scientists can research the impact of drugs on the cellular level. By understanding how an antibiotic, chemo-theraputic agent, or other drug affects disease causing microorganisms, researchers can target the effects of the drug and minimize negative effects.

Growth of Diagnostics

The ability to examine tissues and blood with a microscope have advanced diagnostics in human and veterinary medicine. Physicians and veterinarians are able to examine blood samples to help diagnose disease. The types and amount of different blood cells can differentiate between infectious, allergic, autoimmune, or cancerous diseases. Tissues and other samples can be analyzed to diagnose the type of bacteria or parasite present. Understanding the underlying cause of a disease means more effective treatment and better prognosis.

The invention of the microscope has greatly impacted modern medicine and enhanced the quality and length of life. We have learned about life on the cellular level and beyond and improved our ability to prevent diseases and treat many conditions.

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