Ophthalmoscopes, Mirrors, & Talking Lights
This book is a compilation of three lectures which were prepared for presentation at the annual meeting of the Ocular Heritage Society. These lectures were given in April 2011, 2012 and 2013.
As a collector of antique medical instruments, in particular 19th century ophthalmoscopes and other optical instruments, I believe that I have something of significance to contribute to this limited field of interest.
My first lecture deals with a problem I encountered while researching ophthalmoscopes acquired for my personal collection and while reviewing the collection of ophthalmoscopes of the Dittrick Medical Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. This lecture discusses the steps and strategies employed in determinating the age of an antique ophthalmoscope. Several resources and hints which I have found most helpful in dating these instruments are presented to the reader and collector.
My fascination for reflecting mirrors led me to my second lecture. These mirrors are an integral part of 19th century reflecting ophthalmoscopes, many electric ophthalmoscopes, and other medical instruments. I found it most interesting to trace the evolution of these mirrors. Moreover, my research yielded an unexpected result, how the practice of medicine (the doctor-patient relationship) evolved and changed from the 18th century through the end of the 19th century.
And finally, my third lecture is devoted to an optical device which in one circumstance could have been life-saving and in another definitely did save lives. This device played a role in both U.S. and British military events occurring during the latter fourth of the 19th century. It also has some links with instruments I discussed in the two preceding lectures.
- James Vendeland, April 2013
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