Collection of glas artificial eyes, French, 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
During the 19th century, as more doctors started to specialise in eye disease alone, increasingly complicated operations were devised. The introduction of anaesthesia in 1846 and the adoption of antiseptic techniques by the 1880s, increased the number and complexity of the eye operations that were performed. Artificial eyes have been made since Renaisance times, when Venetian glasmakers began to produce glas eyes. The art flourished in France and Germany in the 19th century. After World War II, plastic superseded glas as the favoured material for artificial eyes.