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Pink coil spring spectacles, National Health Service issue, 1955-1969

Mass produced spectacles were available in the UK in the 1950s and 1960s through the National Health Service (NHS). These frames are a typical example. The coil springs secured the frames when the arms hooked behind the ears. NHS spectacles showed little imagination in terms of design flair. They were made cheaply for robust use and utility rather than fashion. The National Health Act in July 1948 made spectacles free for all. This proved expensive. By 1951, patients paid half the costs towards spectacles. However, eye tests were still free of charge.

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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.

Glossary: spectacle frame

framework part of spectacles, devices to compensate for defective vision or to protect the eyes from light, dust, and the like, consisting usually of two lenses set in a frame that includes a nosepiece for resting on the bridge of the nose and which may also have two sidepieces extending over or around the ears.