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[Perspectives] Hidden histories of light therapy

“You have this Edwardian nurse in leg-of-mutton sleeves and steampunk eyeglasses doing something very technical”, explains Natasha McEnroe, Curator of the Florence Nightingale Museum. We’re looking at a photograph from around 1900 in the museum’s The Kiss of Light exhibition. The nurse is outside using a large lens, known as Finsen’s apparatus, to focus direct sunlight onto the face of a woman with lupus vulgaris. The treatment is far less simple than it seems—such nurses knew the risk of burning.