In persons with astigmatism, the clear outer layer of the eye is deformed in a way that impairs and sometimes distorts vision. The elongated figures in the paintings of El Greco (1541-1614) were so unusual that some critics sought to explain them by hypothesizing that without knowing it, El Greco had an astigmatism that caused everything to appear to him in the distorted way that was characteristic of his painted figures.

 

The proposed explanation is most vulnerable to the criticism that it fails to


establish that during the period in which El Greco lived, there was any correction available to those who did realize their vision was distorted

provide evidence that astigmatism was common in the 1500s and 1600s

consider that the critics who proposed the explanation might have suffered from astigmatism

consider the effect of the hypothesized astigmatism on El Greco's perception of his own paintings

allow for the possibility that artists see the world differently than do nonartists

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