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July 9, 1997

The Eye of the Artist

Author Affiliations

Georgetown University Washington, DC

JAMA. 1997;278(2):168. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550020100048

We physicians are humanists. We learn from philosophy, ethics, literature, and the arts. Frequently we participate in the very process of art. And there are moments when disease brings us to meet the artists.1

The Eye of the Artist is a book about vision and art. The authors are prestigious ophthalmologists and scholars. The book is beautifully illustrated with color photographs of art and explanatory figures of visual mechanisms.

One can read this book in several ways. The subjects are of much interest to the art scholar. The introduction presents an overview of visual anatomy and physiology, and subsequent chapters deal in depth with questions about artists and eye diseases. Was Renoir affected by myopia or presbyopia? Does El Greco's alleged astigmatism explain his style? Did presbyopia cause the Vanishing of Euphronios's detailed illustrated vessels?

The next section treats the artists' use of visual phenomena. Bands in