John Taylor (oculist)

John Taylor (Oculist)

John Taylor (oculist)

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"Chevalier" John Taylor (1703–1772) was the first in a long line of British eye surgeons. While there is some evidence that he showed promise as an eye surgeon early in his career, it became evident that his major talent was that of self-promotion.

Dubbing himself "Chevalier" and "Ophthalmiater Royal," Taylor became the self-proclaimed personal eye surgeon to King George II, the Pope and number of European royal families. He was as famous for his womanizing as for his surgical skills. Prior to performing each surgical procedure, he would deliver a long, self-promoting speech in an unusual oratorial style. (John Barrell, London Review of Books, 2004)

He was a coucher, or cataract surgeon, who performed removal of cataracts by breaking them up into pieces. He has been accused by some for accelerating the process by which composer George Handel became blind. Many (including his contemporaries) believe that Johann Sebastian Bach also died of complications due to his surgery. (Trevor-Roper, Documents of Ophthalmology, 1989) Though one dissenting view concerning Bach is presented in a recent article by Dutch ophthalmologist Dr. R. Zegers. Zegers writes that "After his training, Taylor started practicing in Switzerland, where he blinded hundreds of patients, he once confessed". But "It is very difficult to make a clear connection between the operations and the...
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