“During the last year of his life, Bach’s vision became so poor that he decided, after persuasion by his friends, to have his eyes operated on. Two operations were performed in 1750 by the traveling English ophthalmiater ‘Chevalier’ John Taylor (1703 or 1708-1772), who happened to be in Leipzig.
Taylor had completed a surgical training in England; he also attended lectures by Hermann Boerhaave in the Netherlands and learned the art of couching from Jean Louis Petit in France. After his training, Taylor started practicing in Switzerland, where he blinded hundreds of patients, he once confessed. During his working life, he spent most of his time traveling around in a coach painted all over with eyes and the words qui dat videre dat vivere (giving sight is giving life). His travels took him over the greater part of Europe and beyond, to Russia and Persia, where even kings and emperors were among his patients. More than once he was robbed and almost killed during his travels. Taylor knew a lot about ophthalmology and left scientific articles in several languages. He was the first to describe keratoconus, which he also illustrated in a recognizable way. In the surgical approach to strabismus by means of cutting an eye muscle, he was ahead of his time. This made Taylor a rare combination of a man of serious science and a charlatan in daily practice.”
More on The Eyes of Johann Sebastian Bach (2005) by Dr. Richard Zegers via JAMA
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