Sunday, January 2, 2011

How To Make a Doctor's Head Mirror

I was fool enough to write this for a service (not the one I actually work for) before I realized that what they were looking for was a paragraph or two, and a picture for one of those type sites. Odd that the one that's wherever it is (I've already forgotten)  reads a lot like parts of mine. You couldn't find a reference to the term head mirror on the net before I wrote this. Now there are dozens of them. Gee, what a surprise. Think it could be because I was doing all that research?

Anyway, here's the little article I wrote: 


The Head Mirror, sometimes know as a temple mirror was invented by French accoucheur named Levert, who used it to study the human larynx. He did it using a form of bent glass. Since ancient times, physicians and others have used various methods to increase ambient light. Some of these included candles and lamps placed in front of a mirror to increase the brightness.
The head mirror could have been formed by the method of bending or curving glass and then mirroring the back, or by hammering metal into a slightly concave mold and then polishing it to a bright "mirror" finish.
With the arrival of industrialization, It could have been done all in one step with die-making equipment, the enormous pressure of the stamp, making stainless or chrome steel mirror bright.

This mirror then had a hole drilled in the center and was attached to a leather strap worn around the physician's head with a swivel attachment that allowed him to swing it down to cover one eye or the other and be able to have binocular vision, sometime somewhat magnified, and at the same time, turn the head mirror to direct light wherever he wanted, usually into one bodily orifice or another.
For many of us the head mirror, and usually a stethoscope hung around the neck or hanging out of the pocket made up our iconic image of the healer; sometimes accompanied by the equally iconic black satchel or white coat.
But is the head mirror a thing of the past? Is is a memory known only those of us that are old enough to remember those doctors who actually made house calls and sometimes got paid in chickens or sausage? Is it an icon that will pass away with those of us who formed an image of heroes who got by on virtually no sleep, and knew the names of everyone in the family?
Apparently not. Most doctors nowadays use pen lights. They're easy and work well. But some medical schools still teach the use of head mirrors. And some doctors still use them, primarily ENTs (Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists).
Like a good, old-fashioned stethoscope, they are easy to tuck in a pocket, and you don't have to worry about not having the right battery when you need it.



  1. This would NOT be my most popular post had it not been for the virulent reaction of the followers of the eventual publisher of the little article that I later found after I had done mine (and left a comment). I dare say the stupid piece of dreck will live on forever now, as the "most popular" thing I've ever written.

  2. Paybacks are hell, as they say. This is getting ever more popular, forget the actually significant posts, the things on other blogs, this is what I am going to be known for on the Internet forever and ever... And as we know, nothing there EVER goes away.

  3. It's really not that bad. Well researched and written, proper linkbacks, good illustrations. What's the problem?

  4. You're right. It's not bad. But it took me about half an hour to do, but it's not what I want my life as a writer defined as, you know?


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