MadSci Network: Science History

Re: What caused Galileo to become blind?

Date: Fri May 7 15:49:42 1999
Posted By: Dan Berger, MadSci Admin
Area of science: Science History
ID: 925434533.Sh

Galileo discovered sunspots by looking at the sun through his
telescope. Unable to leave well enough alone, he continued to
look at the sun through his telescope, until he finally went

This, at least, is the most plausible explanation; I suppose there might have been some of it in his family. He was around 55 or 60 when he went blind.

Dan Berger
MadSci Administrator

Admin note:

We received the following additional answer:

Galileo's blindness was certainly NOT due to his solar observations, which he made in 1613. A quarter of a century later, he became blind from cataracts and glaucoma, at the age of 72 (NOT "55 or 60").

This matter was well discussed by a professor of ophthalmology

-- see

for the reference. Galileo's solar observations were made near sunset, when it is quite safe to look at the Sun, even through optical instruments.

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