From Da Vinci to Degas: How Eyesight Issues Affected Famous Artists

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Leonardo’s squint may have been an asset.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s genius may have been helped by a vision disorder, the UK’s Independent newspaper reports.
Analysis of the painter’s face from paintings, drawings and sculptures has revealed he may have suffered from a squint – known medically as a strabismus.

Researchers believe Da Vinci suffered from a type called intermittent exotropia, a condition that causes one or both eyes to turn outward.

The disorder may have helped him because it would have allowed him to switch to monocular vision, in which both eyes are used separately, making it easier to focus on close-up flat surfaces.

“It is hard to tell which eye was affected from the paintings,” says visual neuroscientist Professor Christopher Tyler, whose study, published in JAMA Opthalmology, reviewed surviving images of Da Vinci. “But it would have been particularly useful for getting the whole scene geometrically correct.”

Other artists believed to have vision problems that affected their art are Rembrandt, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Georgia O’Keeffe.

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