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Bow folding spectacles, England, 1650-1750

Bow-shaped spectacles were difficult to wear. The wearer had to tilt his or her head back slightly so they would stay on. They are hinged at the nose and made of horn. Horn was a cheaper material than the more luxurious tortoiseshell. This suggests the owner was not wealthy. Horn is taken from animals such as sheep and cattle. It becomes brittle over time due to moisture and intense heat and snaps easily.

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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: spectacles

Pair of eyeglasses to compensate for defective vision or to protect the eyes from light, dust, and the like. Kept in place by sidepieces passing over the ears, on the nose or held in the hand.

Glossary: optometry

The professional practice of eye and vision care. Optometry includes the correction of visual defects with lenses or glasses.