Euler's eyesight worsened throughout his mathematical career. Three years after suffering a near-fatal fever in 1735 he became nearly blind in his right eye, but Euler rather blamed his condition on the painstaking work on cartography he performed for the St. Petersburg Academy.
Euler's sight in that eye worsened throughout his stay in Germany, so much so that Frederick referred to him as " Cyclops".
Euler later suffered a cataract in his good left eye, rendering him almost totally blind a few weeks after its discovery in 1766.
Even so, his condition appeared to have little effect on his productivity, as he compensated for it with his mental calculation skills and photographic memory.
For example: Euler could repeat the Aeneid of virgil from beginning to end without hesitation, and for every page in the edition he could indicate which line was the first and which the last.
With the aid of his scribes, Euler's productivity on many areas of study actually increased. He produced on average one mathematical paper every week in the year 1775.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Euler's powers of memory and concentration were legendary :