About the project
What do the light catchers symbolise?
The United Nations designated 2015 the International Year of Light. Focusing on the topic of light science and its applications, the UN recognised that light plays a vital role in our daily lives and is an important tool in treating and diagnosing eye conditions (www.light2015.org).
Throughout 2015, we wanted everyone to get involved to mark the Year of Light in a novel way at Moorfields and at the Institute of Ophthalmology.
What happened to the light catchers that were made?
If you particpated at one of our several workshops throughout 2015, your light catcher became part of light capturing display in the Moorfields Canteen window which was open to both public and staff for the duration of 2015.
In 2016, we returned the light catchers to those that participated as a memento of the Year of Light and as a reminder of their place as an important member of our community.
The light catchers that were donated formed a permanent cabinet display in the staff and student library at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. This display can be seen in the image below.
Light and Ophthalmology
Light and the Ophthalmoscope
Imagine having an eye examination in the 1850s. You would have entered a doctor’s examination room, filled with nothing but semi-darkness, a chair and a small table. On the table, a candle stood; a solitary light source which would enable the practitioner to view the back of a patient’s eye. The invention of the ophthalmoscope in 1851 would have been redundant despite brilliance of its construction without the humble candle. The light in the darkness was the key. The plain mirror inside the ophthalmoscope would reflect the light of the candle, using two or three pieces of silvering scraped from the centre. The instrument would be held at a certain angle so that the rays of light from the candle would fall on the reflecting plates on the side, and were reflected into the eye of the patient. The practitioner would look at the eye through the semi-reflective plates and could observe the back of the eye and if necessary and recording his findings
by drawing what he viewed.
Really, the mechanism of an ophthalmoscope doesn’t differ dramatically from the ophthalmoscope used by a GP nowadays, although, naturally, both the design of the equipment as well as the light source have become more sophisticated. In 1860s, the candle was replaced by an oil lamp, and later by a gas lamp, moving onto more advanced light sources from incandescent bulbs in ophthalmoscopes to lasers in 21st century diagnostic equipment. Although our technology in ophthalmic investigations has taken giant leaps in the last 160 years, it is harnessing light that has given the equipment its substance.
Annalise, a photography graduate at Falmouth University, hopes to investigate anatomical photography by studying Medical Illustration after graduating. Here she writes about her previous studies in relation to the field of ophthalmology and light:
During my final year at University, I created a photographic project exploring visual impairments, in particular the eye disease Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). The project is informed by scientific imagery as I created visual metaphors to communicate the incurable deterioration of the eye condition. I had always been interested in sight and how we see, especially from working as a visual artist. I considered the viewer of the work and how they may experience and interpret the art.
This project primarily stems from a gallery visit with a sufferer from Retinitis Pigmentosa where I witnessed first-hand the difficulty that he endured looking at the artwork. While working on the project and writing my dissertation I found that many people had never heard of Retinitis Pigmentosa and some people were unaware of the area between being blind and having full vision. Because of this, I wanted to create art work that can be used as a visual metaphor of the disease. I became inspired by the retinal photographs of the sufferer of RP and became aware of the deterioration through the photographs. Looking at them artistically, I thought that it looked like ivy and experimented with growing ivy inside lightbulbs. Essentially, I used the lightbulb as a metaphor for seeing by imaging the loss of sight as someone "turning off the light".
Alongside researching for the project and my dissertation, what really struck me was the fact that the disease is incurable and is likely to progressively get worse. Using lightbulbs and black ink, I slowly filled the bulbs and put them in a sequence to show the gradual deterioration of sight. For more information on this project, please visit http://www.annalisesherie.com/
A Thousand Years of Research, Light, and The Eye
This article written by Noori Husain, a 4th year Medical Student. The text below and painting was submitted to the NIHR Moorfield BRC's Communicating Research Competition 2015 and won 2015 The Year Of Light Special Category:
Ibn al-Haytham, or Alhazen, is without question, the father of modern optics. His pioneering research resulted in the seven volume 'Book of Optics' which first appeared 1000 years ago. He is regarded as the first theoretical physicist to develop reliable scientfic methods of experimentation, which adhere to a system scientists still use in investigative research today1. The story goes, that Alhazen was directed by the Caliph of Egypt to create a hydraulic system to improve the flooding of the Nile; however, he realised this would be impossible. Fearing the anger of the Caliph, he feigned madness and was kept under house arrest until his death in 10212. During this time, he wrote over 92 works on topics including the theory of vision, astronmy and mathematics. In my painting I have involved aspects of Alhazen's work; which forms the basis of modern day photography. Much of our research today is built on these remarkable pioneers, and I feel it is important to remember and respect their contributions. There is a crater on the Moon and an asteroid named in his honour.
1. James S Ackerman (2 August 1991). Distance Points: Essays in Theory and Renaissance Art and Architecture. Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: MIT Press. p. 590. ISBN 978-0262011228.
2. ''The Great Islamic Encycyclopedia''. Cgie.org.ir. Retrieved 2012-05-27.