Dr. Michael Marmor of the Stanford University School of Medicine combined computer simulation with his own medical knowledge to recreate images of some of the masterpieces of French impressionistic painters Claude Monet and Edgar Degas. Both painters continued to work while struggling with cataracts and retinal disease.
In Marmor's simulated versions of how the painters would most likely have seen their work, Degas' later paintings of nude bathers become so blurry it's difficult to see any of the artist's brush strokes. Monet's later paintings, when adjusted to reflect the typical symptoms of cataracts, appear dark and muddied.
Degas and Monet were founders of the Impressionist era and their artistic styles were well formed before disease affected their vision, Marmor said. But their paintings grew significantly more abstract in later life as their eye problems increased.
A paper detailing Marmor's research appeared in the December issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.