Museum of Vision

Dedicated to preserving ophthalmic history

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Sectional Navigation

  1. Extreme Vision: Science Fiction or Truth
  2. Contagion! Epidemics in Ophthalmic History
  3. Spectacular Spectacles
  4. The Eyes of War
  5. To Fool the Eye
  6. Windows to the Soul
  7. Picturing The Eye: Ophthalmic Film and Photography
  8. Collecting Ophthalmology: 30 Years at the Museum

Exhibitions

Past Exhibitions

Trade card
Pettit's Eye Salve, 1885-1900

To Fool the Eye

Take a look at the outrageous health claims made by colorful charlatans of the 18th and 19th Centuries.  Their bogus remedies claimed to cure poor eyesight and anything else that might trouble you.

Medical quackery is the practice of aggressively promoting an unproven medical treatment.  Arguably as old as recorded history, the zenith of quackery in the United States is said to have been in the 1800s when cure-alls in the form of patent medicines and devices abounded.

During this time, quacks were able to capitalize on the fears of the public and the disorganization of medicine to make large profits with few repercussions.  Irregulars and merchants marketed their miracle cures directly to the public.  Although some purveyors of quackery were true frauds many were simply misinformed and genuinely believed in their claims.



  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


American Academy of Ophthalmology