8 Celebrities with Surprising Eye Conditions

8 Celebrities with Surprising Eye Conditions

We were surprised to learn about the plethora of celebrities with rare eye conditions!  We aren’t talking your average glasses wearers with short-sight or astigmatism.  We are talking visually impaired and could have or did go blind.

They might have vision that affects their daily life… but it doesn’t affect their status.

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp

During a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Johnny Depp disclosed that he is blind in his left eye and short-sighted in his right eye! Whilst filming Pirates of The Caribbean, Johnny admits that he could barely see a few inches in front of his face… how disorientating.

You may have noticed over the years that Johnny has been seen sporting various types of tinted lenses in his glasses. Tinted lenses can enhance contrast and reduce eye fatigue and different tint colours can be used for different issues.  Blue, in particular, can also aid with anxiety.

Forest Whitaker

Forest Whitaker

Forest Steven Whitaker is an American actor, filmmaker, and activist. He is also the recipient of various accolades.  Forest has an obvious eye condition called ‘Ptosis‘ which is caused by a weakening of the muscles that control the eyelid. He has mentioned in interviews that the condition is hereditary.

Forest says that he has considered surgery to correct it as the drooping lid affects his direct line of vision; not for cosmetic reasons. Critics have labelled his eye condition ‘intriguing’ so perhaps it’s in his best interest to leave it alone! We have absolutely loved him on our screens thus far.

celebritiesVenus Williams

Leading world champions aren’t immune to conditions that affect the eyes, unfortunately. With 7x Grand Slam titles and a million other wins & titles under her belt… it is safe to say we all know who this legend is.

Venus Williams suffers from an auto-immune disease known as Sjogren’s Syndrome. It is characterized by degeneration of the mucus-secreting glands, particularly the tear ducts of the eyes (lacrimal) and saliva glands of the mouth.  It can cause joint & muscle pain as well as affecting the lungs and kidneys over time.

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry - condition

Winner of the NBA Most Valuable Player Award (2015, 2016, 2022), Sports Illustrated Sports Person on the Year (2022), Best Male Athlete ESPY Award (2015)… just to name a few of his accolades.  Stephen has a rare eye condition called Keratoconus which only occurs in 1 in every 2000 people, approximately. Some suggest it could be much more common affecting 1 in 400.

Keratoconus is a disorder that causes progressive thinning of the cornea (the clear window at the front of the eye). Causes are most commonly a combination of genetics, hormonal and environmental factors such as sunlight exposure and dry weather, and eye rubbing.  This condition can result in blurred vision, light sensitivity, double-vision and short-sight. Left untreated, keratoconus can effect quality of life. Thankfully thus far, it hasn’t affected this superstars ability to keep the world entertained.

Dame Judy DenchDame Judy Dench

Known for her excellent portrayal of a variety of roles on the big screen and M in the James Bond movies, Dench has revealed that she has age-related macular degeneration (AMD). She was diagnosed in 2012 and in more recent years, she has commented that her AMD is making it nearly impossible to continue acting.  

AMD is a gradual worsening of the central vision that can occur in one or both eyes. This can make driving, seeing faces, reading and performing most daily life tasks difficult. If left untreated, it can eventually lead to blindness.  Treatment often involves intravitreal injections (injections into the eye).

On the Graham Norton show she stated “It’s become impossible and because I have a photographic memory, I need to find a machine that not only teaches me my lines but also tells me where they appear on the page”.

David Bowiecelebrities david bowie

Known for being an 80’s pop sensation who further continued his music career into the 90’s and 00’s, David Bowie is also well known for his standout eyes and unique look.  Most have believed for many years that the 2 eyes are different colours, but they are both blue. David’s pupils are actually different sizes with the left eye pupil being noticeably larger. This is caused by a condition called ‘anisocoria‘.

Causes of anisocoria can range from non-threatening to life threatening.  Thankfully, for David Bowie, the cause is not life threatening.  Bowie recalls an argument with his good friend, George, when they were 15 years old. They were interested in the same girl and during their argument, George punched David in the left eye.  It is suspected that it was not the punch that caused the pupil enlargement, but a scratch from a fingernail.  The scratch is what potentially damaged the muscle that controls the iris (the coloured part of the eye). The iris usually dilates and constricts in order to let a necessary amount of light into the eye.

Ella FitzgeraldElla Fitzgerald

Known for her improvisational “scat” singing, Ella Fitzgerald has recorded more than 250 albums, has collected 13 Grammy Awards and 1 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in her 40-year career. The Jazz vocalists biggest hit, ‘A-Tisket, A-Tasket’ was recorded in 1938!

Ella had diabetes which eventually caused her to go blind in both eyes. Diabetes can cause diabetic retinopathy which is when blood vessels in the back of the eye are damaged and leak. This is usually as a result of poorly controlled blood sugar. Diabetes related complications later meant that Fitzgerald had to have both legs amputated from the knee in 1993.

We remember the Queen of Jazz for giving us beautiful music and for thriving through oppression.  She was one of very few to voice her political stance on racism and follow her heart for what she believed, was right.

Sugar Ray LeonardSugar Ray Leonard

This boxing legend was a one-time undisputed welterweight world champion, and has won 10 world titles at four weight classes as well.  Back in 1982 however; he began to notice floaters in his vision. After being assessed, he was told that the retina in his left eye was partially detached.

Leonard recalls, “I didn’t even know what (the doctor) was talking about. He said, ‘You have a detached retina.’ I said, ‘OK’. We thought we could come after the fight. Seriously,” after he was told by the world renowned surgeon Ronald G. Michels that holding off this surgery for another week could lead to blindness. 

A retinal detachment occurs when the retina comes away from the supportive surrounding tissue.  Causes can be from trauma to the eye/face, high short-sight prescriptions, medications & AMD (age-related macular degeneration). The appearance of many bits of debris (floaters), sudden flashes of light or a shadow in the vision field are symptoms.

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Referenced sites: 
https://www.ocuwellness.co.uk/10-celebrities-with-eye-conditions/ 
https://plxacademy.com/2022/04/22/famous-actors-and-eye-conditions/ 
https://visionscotland.com/celebrities-and-eye-conditions-2/ 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macular_degeneration 
https://allabouteyes.com/anisocoria-mystique-david-bowie/ 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470384/#:~:text=Anisocoria%20is%20a%20term%20derived,a%20difference%20in%20pupil%20sizes. 
https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1987-09-18-me-5579-story.html 
https://bigfightweekend.com/news/sugar-ray-leonard-on-spence-eye-injury-have-to-be-patient/ 
https://www.upi.com/Archives/1986/07/02/Eye-experts-disagree-whether-Sugar-Ray-Leonard-would-be/6554520660800/ 
https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/ptosis 

**None of the information in this blog post is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.**