The Case of the Affluent Artist With Rapidly Deteriorating Vision

Albert Lowenfels, MD; Patrick Maisonneuve, Eng


August 10, 2010

Other Artists With Ocular Problems

Eye diseases are common, especially in older individuals, so it is not surprising that many artists, in addition to Reynolds, suffered from various ocular disorders. The Table contains a list of several prominent and some less well-known artists with ocular disorders. For some of the artists, such as Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, or Rembrandt, subtle changes in the character of their paintings related to progression of their underlying ocular disorder may be observed.[11]

Table. Artists With Ocular Disorders

Name Country Type Problem Remarks
Rembrandt Holland Cataract Gradual diminishing vision, as revealed by the increased fuzziness and yellow tones of his later self-portraits.
Van Gogh Holland Glaucoma?

Digitalis poisoning?

Halos seen in many of his paintings could be related to glaucoma or digitalis poisoning.[12]
Mary Cassatt United States Cataract Similar to Rembrandt's problem. She underwent several cataract operations.
Claude Monet France Cataract Diminishing vision, which improved after cataract operation in 1920.
Honoré Daumier France Blindness Became blind in later life.
Francisco Goya Spain Blindness Became blind at end of his life. Painted blind subjects.
Esref Armagan Turkey Blindness Contemporary painter; blind since birth.
Neil Harbisson United Kingdom Colorblind Completely color-blind, uses an acoustic device to convert colors into sounds.
Edgar Degas France Retinopathy Persistent retinopathy, beginning in midlife.
Georgia O'Keefe United States Age-related macular degeneration Later work shows black circular masses in center of painting.
David Levine United States Age-related macular degeneration Although almost blind at the end of his life, he continued to paint until his death.


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