Arthur Bennett

The expert Honorary Assistant Curator.

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Arthur Bennett

Arthur Bennett, FCOptom (1912-1994) was one of the most respected names in the world of ophthalmic lenses and his text books are still read today. In later life he was Honorary Assistant Curator of the BOA Museum, concentrating particularly on the lens collections.

Originally a banking trainee, he took an evening course in Applied Optics at the Northampton Polytechnic Institute between 1932-5 before joining Willesden Optical Company as a spectacle lens worker. By 1945 he had joined the technical staff of Stigmat Ltd, partly it seems due that company's stated intention to manufacture contact lenses, where he stayed until 1951 and developed a thorough knowledge of the UK optical industry. His interests included telescopic units for the partially sighted and aspheric lenses. He first became a part-time lecturer in 1937 and a full-time senior lecturer at City University in 1962. In 1947 he redesigned an offset zonal scleral contact lens. As Senior Technical Officer in the Inspectorate of Medical Supplies at the Ministry of Health (1951-62) Arthur was the pioneer of British (BS) Standards work on ophthalmic lenses and the BOA Museum owns the trial case he used in his investigations. He wrote over 200 papers and seven books including Optics of Contact Lenses (1949) and Ophthalmic Prescription Work (1st edn 1963). With Ron Rabbetts he co-wrote the classic Clinical Visual Optics and, as an historian, edited the first English translation of Isaac Barrow's 17th century Lectiones Opticae in 1987.

Arthur Bennett's work in sorting and classifying the ophthalmic lens collection was, sadly, left unfinished at his death, but his papers are in the possession of the museum and one day it may be possible to glean significant information from these.

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