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About this book
Although the history of photomedicine dates back thousands of years, with even preliterate cultures appreciating the healing properties of sunlight, for many workers in the discipline photomedicine is associated with the observation about 100 years ago of Niels Finsen, a Danish physician. Finsen recognized that people with tuberculosis who lived in Norway and who had very little exposure to sunlight often developed facial lesions (lupus vulgaris) which would decrease and sometimes disappear during the summer months. This very observant physician reasoned that artificial light ought to produce the same effect as sunlight and began utilizing the radiation from the newly available carbon arc. At first, he used a glass lens to concentrate the radiation, but since this produced considerable burning, he replaced this with a hollow glass lens filled with water. However, while this reduced the heat burns, it did not actually duplicate the effect of direct sunlight. Finally, using a hollow lens filled with water but equipped with quartz windows, Finsen was able to imitate, even improve upon, the effect of sunlight. As a result, lupus vulgaris was practically eliminated from the Scandinavian countries.
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