Did an Eye Condition Contribute to the Brilliance of Leonardo da Vinci?
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Did an Eye Condition Contribute to the Artistic Brilliance of Leonardo da Vinci?

Bust of Leonardo DaVinci in the foreground with Vitruvian Man in the background

Leonardo da Vinci remains one of the most iconic, accomplished artists and inventors of all time. Indeed, da Vinci truly epitomizes what is meant by the term “Renaissance Man.” Among a myriad of accomplishments, da Vinci is responsible for two of the most acclaimed paintings in history, the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. Recently, optometric researchers have surmised that da Vinci’s paintings may have been influenced by the fact that the artisan suffered from an eye condition known as strabismus.

What is Strabismus?

Before diving into whether da Vinci suffered from a particular eye condition that impacted his work as a painter, let’s take a closer look at what strabismus is. Strabismus is a condition in which an individual’s eyes do not align properly. One eye may be aligned appropriately while the other turns outward, inward, up, or down.

Strabismus may be a constant condition or it may come and go. Misalignment may switch from one eye to another. This condition often leads to what is known as amblyopia or “lazy eye”.

Leonardo da Vinci and Strabismus

Researchers from the City University of London’s Division of Optometry and Visual Sciences undertook a comprehensive study to consider whether da Vinci suffered from strabismus. They considered how the condition likely impacted the artist’s work as a painter and sculptor.

In examining paintings and sculptures by da Vinci the researchers concluded that he appeared to specifically suffer from a type of strabismus known as intermittent exotropia. This is a condition in which a person’s eye is out of alignment and trained outward part of the time.

Strabismus impacts depth perception. The researchers believe that da Vinci’s paintings, which have long been said to have a unique perspective, subtly demonstrate an unusual sense of depth perception that may be the result of intermittent strabismus. In other words, arguably one of the elements of da Vinci’s paintings that render them truly remarkable may have been the result of this optical condition.

If da Vinci in fact suffered from strabismus on an intermittent basis, he would have seen the world at times as two-dimensional and at other times as three-dimensional. The condition may have resulted in da Vinci having the ability to make a two-dimensional surface like a painting have a deeper, more three-dimensional appearance.

Da Vinci is not the only artist believed to suffer from strabismus. Rembrandt and Picasso are also thought to have suffered from this eye condition.

Eye Care in the 21st Century

Despite da Vinci’s own efforts and the work of others during the Renaissance, significant limitations existed in the realm of eye care and diagnosing and treating eye conditions and diseases. The process of seeking assistance from an eye doctor in the 21st century is simple. If you are suffering from vision issues, or even if you haven’t scheduled your annual eye exam, call Matossian Eye Associates at (800) 708-8800 or click here to schedule an appointment with an experienced, dedicated eye doctor today.

Contact Us

Doylestown, PA
501 Hyde Park
Route 202
Doylestown, PA 18902

Phone: 215-230-9200

Fax: 215-230-9292

Hopewell, NJ
Two Capital Way
Suite 326
Pennington, NJ 08534

Phone: 609-882-8833

Fax: 609-882-0077

Hamilton, NJ
1445 Whitehorse-Mercerville Rd
Suite 106
Hamilton, NJ 08619

Phone: 609-890-0772

Fax: 609-890-0774

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