Eye Care in the 19th Century

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Highlighting Historical Romance with Pamela Gibson on eye care in the Regency era

While researching ophthalmology in the Regency period for Scandal’s Child, I discovered a medical practice in its infancy. A relatively unknown science at the beginning of the 19th century, the field was rife with quacks and charlatans. Much changed with the end of the Napoleonic Wars because of a rampant disease called trachoma, a bacterial eye infection brought on mainly through poor hygiene.

There is also a dispute as to who founded the first hospital devoted to the treatment of eye disease in England. One account claims it was John Cunningham Saunders in 1804.This early dispensary opened in 1805 in West Smithfield and was later moved to Moorfields.

Another account states that in 1804 Jonathan Wathem Phipps opened the Royal Infirmary for Diseases of the Eye, which also claims to be the first hospital of its kind in London. Phipps, who later took the name Waller in order to inherit an estate, became the oculist to George III, George the IV, and William the IV. There is a story that claims George III had cataracts and while Phipps could have removed them, he declined to do so because the surgery “might enhance the king’s madness.”

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Jonathan Wathem Waller

In my book, Miranda, my heroine, serves as nurse/governess to a nine-year-old blind child. Phoebe has hysterical blindness, something totally unknown at the time. Even I was skeptical and had to verify its existence with my own ophthalmologist who assured me it is real, usually the result of a trauma. As most blind people—children included—were treated as though they were invalids, I had to give my heroine some very creative common-sense skills in teaching Phoebe to look after herself.

Research is interesting and often frustrating. But the tidbits picked up are well worth the effort.

About the Book

Miranda Comstock, widowed and impoverished, accepts a position in London caring for a child who was blinded in a fire. When she discovers the child’s mysterious guardian is the lover who seduced and abandoned her five years earlier, her first thought is to flee. But nine-year-old Phoebe depends on her and is blossoming under her care.  

Jeremy Montague returns from Jamaica to take up his duties as the new Earl of Longley and is shocked to find his former lover is his ward’s nurse. Believing she played him for a fool, he vows to remove her from his household, especially when his traitorous body begins to remember the passion they shared.  

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But there is a mystery afoot involving a long-ago disappearance, Miranda’s resemblance to a society debutante, and the child’s suppressed memories of the fire, which are starting to emerge. As Phoebe’s memories become sharper, Jeremy begins to suspect that he and Miranda were pawns in a twisted game. And both must learn to trust again, if they are to find their way back into each other’s hearts.

Scandal’s Child, the first book in Gibson’s Regency series. Get it now on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0741YXLBN

About the Author

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Author of eight books on California history and twelve romance novels, Pamela Gibson is a former City Manager who lives in the Nevada desert. Having spent the last three years messing about in boats, a hobby that included a five-thousand-mile trip in a 32-foot Nordic Tug, she now spends most of her time indoors happily reading, writing, cooking and keeping up with the antics of her gran-cats, gran-dog, and gran-fish. Sadly, the gran-lizard went to his final reward. If you want to learn more about her activities go to https://www.pamelagibsonwrites.com and sign up for her blog and quarterly newsletter. Or follow her in these places:

Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/profile/pamela-gibson

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Website: www.pamelagibsonwrites.com

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Amazon: www.amazon.com/Pamela-Gibson/e/B00MKVB4XE

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Contact Info

Caroline Warfield, Author

Email : info@carolinewarfield.com