Patient Receiving Phototherapy via an Arc Light, 1907

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This photograph depicts a patient receiving phototherapy treatment via an arc light developed by Niels Ryberg Finsen, the Danish physician who pioneered the treatment of disease (notably lupus vulgaris) through exposure to specific wavelengths of light.

(Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill University)
Finsen’s method consists in concentrating actinic light, through rock-crystal lenses, on any desired part, rendered as exsanguine as possible by means of pressure, because the presence of blood acts as a barrier to the passage of the chemical rays to the tissues.

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