Gemma Almond-Correcting Vision in Nineteenth Century Britain

Gemma Almond


SUPERVISOR(S) - David Turner and Louise Miskell (Swansea University); Tim Boon (Science Museum)

RESEARCH DEGREE (PhD/M.Phil/MA by Research) - PhD

THESIS TITLE - Correcting Vision in Nineteenth Century Britain



My thesis explores the history of eyewear, namely spectacles and eyeglasses, and the correction of vision in the nineteenth century. Drawing upon the medical and social context of the period, it examines how vision aids were manufactured, sold and used. In doing so, it reflects upon wider themes such as the advancement of eyesight testing technologies, specialisation of medicine and the stigma of vision impairments and devices to correct them. It argues that there was an increased knowledge of the eye and use of spectacles by a wider proportion of the population and, by not perceiving sightedness and blindness as fixed opposites, it explores the merits of looking at a spectrum of eye conditions and their treatment for thinking about what constituted ‘disability’.





CONFERENCE PAPERS                       

‘Correcting Vision in Nineteenth Century Britain: A ‘place’ for the history of spectacles?’ Social History of Medicine Conference, July 2016


‘Functional Fashion: Harmonising Approaches to Nineteenth Century Spectacles’, Swansea Postgraduate Conference, October 2016


‘Spectacles and Shortsightedness: A Disability History’, Institute of Historical Research Disability History Seminar Series, December 2016


‘The ‘Spectacle’ of Objects: Approaches to nineteenth-century eyewear and the correction of vision’, CDP History from Objects Workshop, June 2017


Organised the panel ‘Hearing and Seeing: A Comparative analysis of sensory loss and its treatment in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries’, British Society for the History of Science Annual Conference, July 2017


‘Optician and Aurist’ to ‘Ophthalmic Optician’: The Professionalisation of Optometry and the Treatment of Sight Loss in the Nineteenth Century’, British Society for the History of Science Annual  Conference, July 2017



BSHS Masters Bursary, 2014

Swansea University Alumni Scholarship, 2014

AHRC funded collaborative doctoral award (2015-Current)