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Claude Monet is one of history’s most famous impressionist painters. His most well-known series of paintings, “Water Lilies,” can be seen in museums around the world. But did you know these paintings were done as Monet dealt with cataracts?
Monet was officially diagnosed with cataracts in 1912, although his vision problems began much earlier. A cataract is when the lens of the eye starts to harden and turn yellow. This causes visual problems like cloudiness and color desaturation.
Cataracts were extremely frustrating for Monet, and for years he complained of colors looking muddy and dull, especially reds and pinks. Other colors appeared yellow. Not only was he forced to clearly label his paints to ensure he used the right color, but eventually he had to switch from a predominantly blue and green pallet to a more red and yellow one. Also, because he had difficulty seeing, he started painting with broader brush strokes. The finer details that his earlier works were well-known for disappeared.
While cataracts were a nightmare for Monet, the forced change in his art style was unintentionally very influential. He became one of the leaders of the impressionist movement, a term which describes art that doesn’t contain many fine details of the image it is presenting. While it was a condescending term at the time, impressionism is now a highly regarded and respected art style.
But the impressionist period wasn’t the end of Monet’s career. In 1923, despite his fears of the surgery, he was finally persuaded to have his right cataract removed. However, he was an extremely difficult patient, which made his recovery period a tough time and convinced him not to get surgery in his left eye. As a result, it remained cloudy.
However, Monet was finally able to clearly see the full color spectrum out of his right eye. This allowed him to paint in a similar style to the one he had before his issues with cataracts.
While cataracts unintentionally led to a major revolution in the art world, Monet was still very unhappy that his vision became so poor. He often dealt with depression, too, and destroyed many of the paintings he was unhappy with, particularly those from the period before his surgery.
Cataract surgery has improved dramatically since Monet’s day, and the more than 20 cataract surgeons at CEENTA are trained in the latest techniques and technology. Whether you’re a professional painter or a hobbyist, and whether you’re an impressionist or a still-life painter, we want you to see as clearly as possible.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. To schedule an appointment with a CEENTA cataract surgeon, call 704-295-3000. You can also request an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.
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