Artists and vision – the “eye” kind

Do my eyes look a little fearful? Today I’m going under the knife – well, under the laser, for cataract surgery and a lens implant. Actually, if you’ve had this done, it’s not a huge deal and the results are amazing. This will be my second time – the right eye, which I had done a couple of years ago, turned out great.

My friends Carol and and Pat sneaked a very cool good luck surprise into my mailbox this morning – it’s an “eye” milagro card from Nepal.

Here’s the back – you all probably know about milagros, but it was interesting to see it on a card from Nepal.

I will take my milagro card with me to the surgery center!

Thanks to another friend, Joyce, I read a fascinating article about the impact of cataracts and visual degeneration in general on the works of Monet and Degas, Ophthalmology and Art: Simulation of Monet’s Cataracts and Degas’ Retinal Disease.

Claude Monet

Monet was more affected than Degas because he painted variations of light, and his cataracts drastically altered his perception. Degas vision was blurry, but “the striking finding is that Degas’ blurred vision smoothed out much of the graphic coarseness of his shading and outlines. One might even say that the works appear ‘better’ through his abnormal vision than through our normal vision.”

Degas’ last painting, with his vision almost gone

Monet wasn’t as lucky. After 1915, his paintings became much more abstract, with an even more pronounced color shift from blue-green to red-yellow. He complained of perceiving reds as muddy, dull pinks, and other objects as yellow. These changes are consistent with the visual effects of cataracts. Nuclear cataracts absorb light, desaturate colors, and make the world appear more yellow.

One of Monet’s last paintings

It seems that Monet was not a good cataract patient  – Mary Cassat had warned him about the procedure after she had it, but he was desperate and gave it a try at age 82. . Immediately after the surgery he did not want to rest his eyes, that doing so interfered with his work. Depressed, he tried to rip off the bandages.Yikes! You can read the whole story here.

Finally, when you have this surgery, you see all kinds of weird shapes during the process. Check out this painting that a 62-year-old man did to express what he saw during the surgery. Trippy!

Anyway, I’ll report back – maybe I can paint like Degas after this? Nah, but I might see colors differently!

16 thoughts on “Artists and vision – the “eye” kind

  1. Best wishes for a speedy recovery, Lyn. I had mine done a year ago and for the first time since I was a young child I have not had to wear glasses or contacts for my extremely poor eyesight. The first time I woke up in the morning and could actually see was a wonder. Ain’t science grand?

  2. Lynn, this article means so much to me. Give years ago had my first cataract surgury, went wonderful! I can attest to the yellow thing. They said I could wait a year or so for my second surgury. I had early cataracts (61). I also have extreme dry eye, which suddenly became worse. I had extreme pain and went almost totally blind for 8 or 9 months! Finally found a wonderful young ophthalmologist who realized I was having auto-immune reactions to everything any doctors were trying to do for me. He put me on a special drop with no additives & 2 weeks later I could see & had no pain! Didn’t know whether to go to church or drink tequila so I did both. Needless to say I went back into my art full force so grateful I could see. Two months later had my second surgury, went great! We don’t realize how precious our gift of sight is! Good luck! You will be fine!

  3. Confucius says, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” You look for the beauty in things! Best regards. Dee Dee

  4. I have a Greek blue glass medallion that I use to ward off the evil eye. I’ll rub it while I play Carole King singing “Pocket Money,” which she wrote and performed for a film by the same name. Great film with Newman and Marvin. The 4 of us will wish you well. fk

  5. I had both eyes (near sighted since 6th grade) done 3 yrs ago this month, 4 weeks apart. The surgery was AWESOME, all the colors flowed in when the lens was removed!! Imagine oil floating on water, but more intense. (or a Joshua light show from back in the day) I told my Dr. that, as a child,I used to love to watch dust dance in a sunbeam, but as my vision got worse, I lost that.Now I could once again. upside? can buy all sorts of cute non rx sunglasses. downside? now I can see all the dust and smudges on the furniture so I’ve gone mad cleaning!!

  6. i feel sure you will be fine, and your eye will be better. I have been meaning to tell you your emails/ posts are wonderful. Thank you.

    My friend Polly just had her first eye done. i can’t wait to see how her vision improves.

    i having been meaning to send you some pix of art me and friends have made with your little faces. i am bad at things like writing, but maybe a Facebook album…

    thank u again Lyn, and, no worries.

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