My mother has the best collections around. I love how every room has a collection displayed that seems to fit into it’s surroundings. The bathroom is no different. Eye wash glasses adorn the window sill above the bath. When looking at your reflection in the mirror, having a bath, or just walking in the bathroom they can be seen. Beautiful colours that capture the light.
Her collection started in 1985 whilst clearing out her mother’s flat after she died. Finding an eye wash glass in the bathroom, mum thought “I’m going to start collecting those”. Her second eye glass was from her mother in law. The rest were gradually found in antique stores, auctions or shops. They were quite expensive for what they were.
Eye wash glasses have been used as far back as the sixteen century. They were filled with water. Patients with an eye complaint threw their heads back with an eye glass filled with water and would blink to relieve an item or irritant. The Roman term collyrium is often associated with eye wash glasses. It was when a number of medications moulded together in gum to form a solid cake, a small piece was dissolved in water or oil and applied to powders and ointments for instillation into the eye. Nowadays eye wash glasses are seen as very unclean due to the fact that it isn’t sterilised between people using it. Therefore if a person who had conjunctivitis used one, then the following patients using the same eye glass would end up with conjunctivitis. Nice.
What do we do now? After the invention of the eye drops, eye wash glasses numbers dwindled. And having just completed my first aid course, the recommended approach to someone with an eye complaint is to run water over the persons eyes with their head side on.
My mother is an ex-nurse so collecting eye wash glasses was interesting to her. I have very vivid memories of using them as a child, and often. She would use water or sometimes add a pinch of salt and then play a game while we blinked and blinked, then hopefully the bit would float out. We would see if we could blink 100 times while the eye was surrounded by water. She thinks it was really good for our numeracy!
Her favourite eye glass is the plain white one. This is due to her associating it with her childhood. Many eye glasses were the stoppers from the bottles that were filled with eye wash solution. The earlier eye wash glasses were made of pottery.
When I was telling my husband all about eye glasses, his comment was “they’re pretty boring, I would rather use them as shot glasses”. Love it.