Public Release: 

Did Leonardo da Vinci have a vision disorder that may have helped him capture space on a flat canvas?

JAMA Ophthalmology

Bottom Line:  Beginning with Rembrandt, a number of famous artists have been identified as having strabismus, a misalignment of the eyes. Some forms of eye misalignment are thought to be beneficial for artistic work by suppressing the deviating eye, which provides 2-dimensional monocular vision advantageous to painting and drawing. In this study, images considered to be of Leonardo da Vinci (sculptures, oil paintings and drawings) were analyzed. The author found evidence that suggests da Vinci may have had intermittent exotropia (a tendency for the outward turn of an eye). This would result in a capability to switch to monocular vision, which may help to explain his ability to depict the 3-dimensional aspects of faces and objects in the world and the distant depth of mountainous scenes.

Author: Christopher W. Tyler, Ph.D., D.Sc., City University of London, United Kingdom 

To Learn More: The full study is available on the For The Media website.

(doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2018.3833)

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