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Handheld folding spectacles, English, 1730-1860

Handheld spectacles were the height of fashion in the 1700s and 1800s. This is a gilt example. Oval-shaped lenses were popular. The frame design is knotted at one end to act as a handle. The spectacles rested on the nose so the wearer could see. They were not worn for a long time because the wearer would soon experience arm ache. They were probably for occasional use by a wealthy owner.

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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.