The World of Vision: Presidents in History with Vision Problems

The Abraham Lincoln Memorial in Washington - President’s Day Vision Impairments

During the month of February we celebrate some very important moments in history, one of which is the birthday of George Washington or President’s Day as we have come to know it today. With over 75% of Americans using some form of corrective lenses, either contacts or glasses, the vision issues that we face continue to grow and expand. Have you ever wondered which figures in history struggled with vision impairments? There are 3 prominent American leaders who each suffered from a form of vision impairment and wore corrective lenses: Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson.

Theodore Roosevelt was partially blind in his left eye and wore corrective eyeglasses, which have become an iconic part of his demeanor. Although the problem was never officially diagnosed, experts speculate that it was the result of an injury and resulted in a detached retina in Teddy’s left eye, a common sports injury. Abraham Lincoln could not look a person straight in the eye – he had a condition called strabismus . With this vision impairment, he could not look at exactly the same object at the same time with both eyes. He also had a few other impairments - likely the result of injuries during his childhood. Woodrow Wilson, the 27th president of the US, woke up one fine morning and was almost entirely unable to see out of his right eye. Historians hypothesize that this occurred due to high blood pressure and a condition called central retinal vein occlusion, which caused severe bleeding in the retina.

The importance of taking care of and paying attention to your eyes cannot be stressed enough. With the growing prevalence of devices and screens and the additional strain that puts on our vision, yearly checkups and continued attention to your eyes are imperative. A very famous English proverb says, “The eyes are the window to the soul” so let’s take care of them together!