Leonardo da Vinci – Oculoplastics and an eye for art make a latter day Renaissance Man
Despite having lived more than 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci remains to this day the embodiment of the true Renaissance Man.
Arguably one of the greatest artists of all time, he was also a skilled sculptor, and an inventor and scientist, centuries ahead of his time. His drawings, diagrams and intricate plans for a helicopter, parachute and military armoured tanks can still be seen.This remarkable man’s imagination and intellect is also credited with coming up with the idea of contact lenses to correct poor sight.
His fascination with anatomy is well documented and his iconic work, the Vitruvian Man, (produced around 1487) put the seal on the marriage of art and science for generations to come. Undoubtedly the well-rounded skills and innovative thoughts and ideas of Leonardo da Vinci have inspired medical pioneers across the centuries.
Barcelona based Ophthalmologist, Santiago Ortiz-Perez, is one such doctor who has a gift for art. As a youngster, Santiago, was torn betwen art and science when making his career choice. Despite coming from a “medical family” – his father is a GP in his native city of Granada- Santiago had always shown a huge talent for painting and drawing and wanted to select a life path that would also satisfy his creative artistic personality. It was therefore a logical step that he would choose to become an Oculoplastic surgeon – this relatively new branch of ophthalmics perfectly blends the science of eye medicine with the artistry required for aesthetic surgery.
Santiago graduated in Medicine from Granada University. He achieved a high qualification in the Spanish exam to give him access to the specialty program (MIR) where he chose Ophthalmology at the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona. After 4 years training as an ophthalmologist with special interest in oculoplastic surgery, he joined Jane Olver’s team in London as the Oculoplastic Fellow for one year.
From his current position as ophthalmic specialist in the Oculoplastic department of the Clinic Hospital in Barcelona, Santiago retains his links with London and his mentor.
It was therefore only to be expected that when it came to setting up Clinica London at 140 Harley Street, Jane should seek his artistic input. The hypnotic aquarium in the reception room is just one of the results of this collaboration.
To the untrained eye photographs of any medical procedure can be not only confusing to understand but also somewhat disturbing to view. For this reason, when designing the Clinica London website, it was decided to avoid the use of photographs to illustrate the various eye conditions and operations; and instead to feature a much more patient- friendly option: illustrations painted in clear acrylic colours.
With his huge ophthalmic knowledge combined with his artistic talent, Santiago was the natural choice to execute the job.
Although some distance from his usual realist landscapes, Santiago’s medical illustrations used in power point demonstrations are proving popular at conferences all over the world. They are seen as an accurate and user-friendly way for everyone to understand the detailed make up of our eyes and the surrounding part of the face, what can go wrong and the many new procedures used to correct these conditions.
There can be no doubt that Leonardo da Vinci would have approved of Santiago’s work – both as an artist and a doctor.
Finally, the next time we look at the Mona Lisa, we should perhaps, just for a moment, pull our gaze away from her enigmatic smile and instead examine the peri-orbital part of her face. It is interesting to see that, despite her beauty, she appears to have no eyelashes or eyebrows. It is, however, unlikely that she was in need of an oculoplastic makeover or indeed that Leonardo de Vinci painted her this way. Instead it is now widely understood that these features have disappeared with the passage of time.
Barcelona, 14th October 2011