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Green glass eye bath, Europe, 1801-1900

Eyebaths are a means of applying a liquid medicine or a simple wash to a notoriously sensitive part of the body. Once the ceramic bowl was filled with a liquid, the patient would place the bath over the eye, tilt their head back and open and close the eye repeatedly in the liquid. The bowl is curved to fit the socket of the eye and avoid spillage and such treatment may have been needed for an infection or to remove an irritation. Most eyebaths were made from green or blue glass. Made by moulding, the green glass eyebath is a rare surviving example of one with a reservoir for water. It is pictured here with a more typically shaped blue example (A627016).

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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: eye bath

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