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Arch Ophthalmol. 2005 Oct;123(10):1427-30.

The eyes of Johann Sebastian Bach.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


Johann Sebastian Bach's only physical problem seems to have been his vision. Myopia seems most likely, and it is probable that he developed cataracts at an older age. In addition to the cataracts, his worsening vision may have been due in part to some other eye problem. During the last year of his life, Bach's vision became so poor that he decided to have his eyes operated on. Two operations were performed in 1750 by the traveling English eye surgeon John Taylor. Most likely the first operation was Taylor's standard couching procedure. About 1 week after the first operation, Bach had to be operated on again because of a reappearance of the cataract. Many painful and/or vision-reducing complications could have been induced by these intraocular operations: uveitis or endophthalmitis, secondary glaucoma, hemorrhage, retinal detachment, and even sympathetic ophthalmia. Bach was "completely blind" after the operations, and he died less than 4 months after the final operation.

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