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Frost's artificial eye, London, England, 1870-1885

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William Adams Frost (1853-1935), an English ophthalmologist, invented this ‘artificial eye’ to teach medical students about defects in vision. The glass lenses on the wooden stand can be placed to show short-sightedness, long-sightedness, and astigmatisms. Artificial eyes like this one were also used to give students practice using an ophthalmoscope, so they would be able to diagnose eye complaints.

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    Glossary: ophthalmology

    The branch of medicine dealing with the diseases and surgery of the visual pathways (usually the eyes or the brain).

    Glossary: artificial eye

    A curved disk of opaque glass or plastic, containing an imitation iris and pupil in the centre, inserted beneath the eyelids and supported by the orbital contents after evisceration or enucleation; it may be ready-made (stock) or custom-made

    Glossary: teaching aid

    A tool used by teachers, facilitators, or tutors to help learners improve reading and other skills,or to illustrate or reinforce a skill, fact, or idea. They can often combat anxiety or boredom, as many teaching aids are like games.

    Glossary: ophthalmoscope

    An instrument for viewing the interior of the eye, particularly the retina. Light is shone into the eye via a mirror (usually concave) and then examined with or without the aid of a lens. Invented by by Hermann Von Helmholtz in 1850

    Glossary: anatomy

    A branch of medical science concerned with the structure of living organisms.

    Glossary: short-sightedness

    A defect of the eye where images are produced in front of the retina rather than on it. This causes object that are close to the viewer to appear blurred. Usually treated with glasses or corrective surgery.

    Glossary: astigmatism

    A condition where there is deviation in the curvature of the eye or the lens. This means that vision is distorted, as light rays cannot focus properly.

    Glossary: long-sightedness

    A defect of the eye where images are produced behind the retina rather than on it. This causes objects that are further away from the viewer to appear blurred. Long-sightedness is usually treated with glasses or corrective surgery.