Correcting Vision in Nineteenth Century Britain
DEPT/SUBJECT AREA - History
SUPERVISOR(S) - David Turner and Louise Miskell (Swansea University); Tim Boon (Science Museum)
RESEARCH DEGREE (PhD/M.Phil/MA by Research) - PhD
THESIS TITLE - Correcting Vision in Nineteenth Century Britain
My thesis explores the history of eyewear, namely spectacles and eyeglasses, and the correction of vision in the nineteenth century. Drawing upon the medical and social context of the period, it examines how vision aids were manufactured, sold and used. In doing so, it reflects upon wider themes such as the advancement of eyesight testing technologies, specialisation of medicine and the stigma of vision impairments and devices to correct them. It argues that there was an increased knowledge of the eye and use of spectacles by a wider proportion of the population and, by not perceiving sightedness and blindness as fixed opposites, it explores the merits of looking at a spectrum of eye conditions and their treatment for thinking about what constituted ‘disability’.