Museum of Vision

Dedicated to preserving ophthalmic history

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Sectional Navigation

  1. Selections from the Sherman Collection
  2. History of Ophthalmology in the Asia Pacific
  3. Their Eyes to the Sky
  4. Great Insights and Great Thinkers in Ophthalmology
  5. Beyond Ophthalmology, Beyond the Clinic
  6. Extreme Vision: Science Fiction or Truth
  7. Contagion! Epidemics in Ophthalmic History
  8. The Eyes of War
  9. Spectacular Spectacles
  10. To Fool the Eye
  11. Windows to the Soul
  12. Picturing The Eye: Ophthalmic Film and Photography
  13. Collecting Ophthalmology: 30 Years at the Museum

Violet Ray Machines

Violet ray machine
Violet ray machine sold by Montgomery Ward and Co., c1940

One of the most popular home electric devices was the violet ray generator.  Violet ray generators were a combination of glass vacuum electrodes, introduced in 1896, and the Tesla coil, invented in 1897.  They were used all over the body to increase a person's blood supply and the amount of oxygen in the blood.  They were also promoted as a stimulant to the optic nerve. Today we know that the electrodes produced a small amount of heat and an impressive purple to blue glow, but little else. More than three dozen different manufacturers made these items for home use, selling thousands of devices between 1915 and 1950.



  1. Nostrums and Patent Medicines
  2. Patent Medicine and the American Civil War
  3. To Strengthen the Eyes
  4. Sight Restorers
  5. Electrotherapy
  6. Violet Ray Machines
  7. Color Therapy
  8. Quackery's Demise

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American Academy of Ophthalmology