Go back to article: Rather unspectacular: design choices in National Health Service glasses


This article considers the design and production of spectacles in Britain following the introduction of standardised frame styles under the National Health Service. NHS spectacles were provided as a functional, durable medical appliance to be delivered cost-effectively and there was no explicit concern for fashion or the patient experience. The actions of the government and professional bodies greatly affected the trade in eyewear and thus restricted opportunities for innovative design and consumer choice. Within the range of state regulation frames there was no active concern for ‘design’ in terms of appearance and it was only through the purchase of private frames that significant choice and variety in eyewear could be attained. The scope for the public to select a more fashionable frame whilst receiving an element of state aid was through the purchase of NHS hybrid private frames.

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/170703/001