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Eastside Terp

Why Did Bach Go Blind? ......

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interesting read, can't imagine letting anyone have a go at my eyes with a blunt object or post surgery treatment of “eye drops of blood from slaughtered pigeons, pulverized sugar or baked salt,” ....

 

Among medical mysteries involving master musicians, it doesn’t quite match the still-mysterious death of Mozart at age 35. But precisely why Johann Sebastian Bach went totally blind less than four months before his death in 1750 remains an open question—as well as the portal to a poignant story. More than two-and-a-half centuries after the fact, a prominent Finnish ophthalmologist is offering what he calls a “plausible diagnosis” of the great composer: intractable secondary glaucoma, brought on by a botched eye operation.

 

He also notes that Bach’s life might literally have been brighter—and perhaps even longer—if he had lived, or even traveled, about 500 miles to the west. Tarkkanen, professor emeritus of ophthalmology at the University of Helsinki notes that after Bach’s eyesight began to decline, he had both eyes operated on by traveling British eye surgeon John Taylor. Tarkkanen puts the word “surgeon” in quotes, which gives you some idea of his lack of respect for this particular practitioner. Tragically, a more modern method was being tested in the nation next door. In 1747—three years before Bach’s operation—Paris-based ophthalmologist Jacques Daviel conducted the first cataract operation using a new, safer, more effective method. His “extracapsular technique” would soon become the standard procedure for cataract operations, and remain so until the early 20th century.

 

http://www.psmag.com/blogs/news-blog/why-did-bach-go-blind-53250/

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