Famous people with childhood cataracts

Bilateral cataracts:

William Styron (1925-2006), US, Writer

William Styron was most well-known for his novels: Confessions of Nat Turner (1967) about slavery in the southern United States, Sophie’s Choice (1979) about the holocaust and, later in life, and for his memoir on depression, Darkness visible (1990).

Henry Hurd Rusby (1855-1940), US, Botanist, explorer, physician, pharmacist

Henry Hurd Rusby was a passionate botanist and, although a qualified doctor, spent much of his career collecting over 10,000 plants on intrepid and incredible adventures in the Amazon, surviving wars, disease and violence and even being put into a grave to die, eventually climbing out and going back to work. He discovered and brought back home many plants from which medicines are still made. He became professor of Botany at Columbia University and went on to campaign successfully for better qualifications for doctors, and for laws to protect the public from adulterated drugs. Still embarking on expeditions in his 60s, Rusby lived to the age of 85.

Louis Vierne (1870-1937), France, Composer, Organist, Teacher

Louis Vierne was a gifted musician from a very young age and, after studying at the Paris Conservatoire, became organist at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. He was known as a superb teacher and as the greatest improviser of his generation. He overcame a number of personal problems including divorce, the death of his son and a serious accident, to die as he had hoped to do – whilst playing the organ at Notre Dame.

>Ronnie Milsap (1944-), US, Country Soul singer

Ronnie Milsap has been a hugely influential Country musician during the 1970s and 80s, with 40 US Country chart number 1 hits to his name

Art Tatum (1909-1956), US, Jazz Pianist

Art Tatum was famous for his ability to play pieces that were written as duets by himself and for his incredible technical wizardry on the piano

Amadou Bagayoko (1954-), Mali, Musician

Amadou Bagayoko is one half of the husband and wife duo Amadou and Mariam. They fuse traditional Malian music with electric guitars and other musical elements in a style known as Afro-Blues. They are probably Mali’s most famous musical export and are currently supporting the Scissor Sisters in concert. Amadou Bagayoko has spoken out publicly about issues facing people with visual impairments in the developing world.

Bernard A Newcomb (dob?-) US, Businesman, Philanthropist

Bernie Newcomb is a businessman who developed the software that enabled people to trade stocks and shares online and, along with his business partner, made a fortune from their company E*Trade. He has now retired from business and supports charitable projects including those for people with visual impairments.

Beverly Butler (dob?-) US, Writer

Beverly Butler writes fiction for older children and teenagers about visual impairment.

Unilateral cataract

Jerry Woodall (1938 – ) US, Engineer

Jerry Woodall invented the semi-conductor technology that a large part of the modern electronics industry is based on. He invented the red LEDs used in remote controls, mobile phones and CD players.


If you know of others who could be added to our hall of fame, please email details to webeditor@childhoodcataracts.org.uk

Author: Anna, parent