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New Interpretation of Galileo’s Arthritis and Blindness

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DOI: 10.4236/aa.2015.51005    3,799 Downloads   4,576 Views   Citations


Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) complained of several disorders during his life, the most important of which were chronic arthritic pains and bilateral blindness. These symptoms might be results from an immune rheumatic disease, namely reactive arthritis (urethritis, uveitis, arthritis), when Galileo started suffering with an episode of fever in June 1593. Padua University owns the fifth lumbar vertebra of the great scientist and we performed a series of anthropological and radiographic analyses on it. The anthropological measurements showed that the shape of the vertebra was normal as to exclude significant diseases. The study through radiography and Computed Tomography showed only a mild arthrosis documented by small osteophytosis. Eventually the disease evolved into blindness with a pannus restricting the pupils (uveitis). These findings support the occurrence of reactive arthritis. Alternatively to urethral infection, Galileo could have suffered from Chlamydia pneumoniae infection in 1593, which was complicated by reactive arthritis a couple of weeks later. Thereafter he complained several episodes of recurrent arthritis, which eventually culminated into uveitis and bilateral blindness.

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The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Zanatta, A. , Zampieri, F. , Bonati, M. , Liessi, G. , Barbieri, C. , Bolton, S. , Basso, C. & Thiene, G. (2015). New Interpretation of Galileo’s Arthritis and Blindness. Advances in Anthropology, 5, 39-49. doi: 10.4236/aa.2015.51005.


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