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Protective goggles used during UV light therapy, England, 1930-1950

High concentrations of UV light can damage the eyes, so green plastic goggles like these were worn by children undergoing ultraviolet light therapy or actinotherapy. The treatment could be used to treat rickets, but was also used for tuberculosis of the skin – a highly disfiguring disease known as lupus vulgaris. Rickets was common in those with a vitamin D deficient diet and a lack of sunlight also contributed to the condition, whereas exposing the skin of people with lupus to sunlight or UV lamps could kill the tuberculosis bacteria. The goggles were used at the Lord Mayor Treloar Orthopaedic Hospital in Alton, Hampshire, England. Founded in 1908, the hospital was originally opened to provide specialised treatment for children with orthopaedic conditions, mainly caused by tuberculosis and, later, polio. However, a significant number of lupus and rickets cases were also treated there.

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    Techniques and Technologies:


    Glossary: actinotherapy

    the treatment of disorders with infrared or ultraviolet radiation

    Glossary: goggles

    Protective coverings for the eyes having special lenses with shields at the sides and sometimes projecting rims or eye tubes; may consist of two lenses or a single frame and either held in place by two sidepieces extending around the ears or a strap that passes around the back of the head.

    Glossary: rickets

    A condition caused by a lack of vitamin D. Characterized by soft and deformed bones, which can lead to an increased number of injuries.

    Glossary: tuberculosis

    An infectious disease that is caused by a bacterium first identified by Robert Koch in 1882. The disease usually affects the lungs first, and is accompanied by a chronic cough.

    Glossary: polio

    An infectious disease affecting the central nervous system. Affected individuals can exhibit a range of symptoms if the polio virus enters the blood stream.