History of Ophthalmology

Volume 6 of the series History of Ophthalmology pp 203-208

Didymus the Blind: An unknown precursor of Louis Braille and Helen Keller

  • John LascaratosAffiliated with
  • , Spyros MarketosAffiliated withDepartment of History of Medicine, Athens University Medical School

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The present study presents the case of Didymus the Blind, worthy author, philosopher and theologian of the 4th century AD. Blinded by ophthalmia at the age of four years, Didymus succeeded in achieving great learning in the philosophical and natural sciences. He began his education by using a system which was remarkably like Braille, that is reading letters engraved into the surface of wood by touch and subsequently furthering his knowledge by listening. This learning process of Didymus the Blind appears as the precursor of Louis Braille who invented the educational system of reading embossed dots by touch. Like Didymus, Braille lost his vision in infancy (at three years of age). Another parallel of Didymus’ career and written works is found in the example and achievements of Helen Keller.

Key words

History of Ophthalmology Antiquity Blindness Louis Braille Didymus Helen Keller