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October 25, 1971

Vincent Van Gogh And Glaucoma

JAMA. 1971;218(4):595-596. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03190170073027

To the Editor.—  While Maire does not mention the type of glaucoma that he thinks Van Gogh may have had, the reference to anisocoria (presumably one pupil is fixed and semidilated) and intermittent elevations in intraocular pressure suggest acute or subacute angle-closure glaucoma. While these conditions do indeed cause corneal epithelial edema which results in the perception of colored halos, an alternate and more plausible cause in Van Gogh's case would be nuclear sclerosis of the lens.1 Further, there are some who speculate that Van Gogh was near sighted.2 Were this the usual form of myopia associated with an increase in axial diameter, angle-closure glaucoma would be most unlikely.Maire suggests that Van Gogh sought the brightness of southern France for the symptomatic relief of glaucoma. Indeed, in subacute angle-closure glaucoma, eye symptoms may be vague and minimal, and an attack may be broken by pupillary constriction to

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