A new theory has claimed Jane Austen was almost totally blind at the end of her life, as a result of being poisoned by arsenic.
The Pride and Prejudice author died in 1817, aged 41, and tests on three pairs of glasses that have been handed down through her descendants show that her eyesight grew increasingly poor as she grew older.
She is known to have referenced her frustration at her lack of vision in several letters.
Based on a description of unusual pigmentation on her face, crime writer Lindsay Ashford speculated she may well have suffered from arsenic poisoning.
The conclusion is made more likely by the fact the substance was commonly found in water supplies and medicines, in those times.
It is suggested that it she may well have ingested the heavy metal through medication for rheumatism, which she is also known to have suffered with.
And the spectacles reveal she had convex lenses - used by longsighted people - and may have suffered from cataracts, which can be developed from arsenic poisoning.
Two tortoiseshell glasses and a wire-framed pair were examined by optometrist Simon Barnard that latter pair earlier in her life, and the former two as her condition worsened.
Austen's family passed the glasses in 1999, but it has taken almost two decades for any real study to be done on them.
The Lead Curator, Sandra Tuppen, said: 'The variations in the strength of the three pairs of spectacles may indeed give further credence to the theory that Austen suffered from arsenic poisoning, albeit accidental.'
She said 'The prescription of the strongest pair would suggest that she suffered from significant eye problems.
'Hopefully this will give us an avenue for further research.'
She added, however, that it still has not been confirmed whether she bought them, and they may have been bought without proper testing being done on her eyes, so they may have been too strong. According to Daily mail.
Source: Daily Mail