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Silver eye bath, Europe, 1701-1900

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Eye baths are a means of applying a liquid medicine or a simple wash to a notoriously sensitive part of the body. Once the silver bowl was filled with liquid, the patient would place the bath over the eye, tilt the head back and open and close their eye repeatedly in the liquid. The bowl is curved to fit the socket of the eye and avoid spillage. Such treatment may have been needed for an infection or to remove an irritation. The base of this example can be detached and itself filled with a liquid medicine, which could then be dripped into the eye through the stem. This eye bath is made of silver and has a floral design punched into the base. Eye baths can be made from a range of materials including other metals, glass, ceramics and plastic.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: ophthalmology

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

Glossary: eye bath

A small glass or vessel for applying lotion to the eye. This is often necessary to sooth irritation.