Museum of Vision

Dedicated to preserving ophthalmic history

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  1. Extreme Vision: Science Fiction or Truth
  2. Contagion! Epidemics in Ophthalmic History
  3. Spectacular Spectacles
  4. The Eyes of War
  5. To Fool the Eye
  6. Windows to the Soul
  7. Picturing The Eye: Ophthalmic Film and Photography
  8. Collecting Ophthalmology: 30 Years at the Museum
  9. Beyond Ophthalmology, Beyond the Clinic

The Evil Eye

Evil eye pendant
Evil eye pendant, 1970

The concept of the evil eye is found in many cultures and religions, spanning the globe from the Middle East to the Americas.  This superstition holds that a person possessing the evil eye can cause injury or even death to anyone they choose simply by gazing at them. 

The Eye of Horus is said to have been an ancient talisman against the evil eye and it was worn as an amulet and used to decorate goods.  Centuries later the myth of the evil eye was still strong amongst Europeans. Prayer, manual gesturing and even mirrors were used to avoid the gaze of someone possessed with the evil eye. These individuals could be identified as they usually had crossed or diverging eyes, asymmetrical eyes or eyes of two different colors. 

The Malleus Maleficarum was a book originally published in 1487 on the identification, interrogation and conviction of witches.  In it, it was written that subjects should be led into the court room backwards, lest they bewitch their judges by “a mere look or glance from their eyes.”  The general acceptance and persistence of this kind of reasoning can be inferred by the fact that the book was re-published some 29 times over the following 200 years.



  1. Eye Temple of Brak
  2. Eye of Horus
  3. The Evil Eye
  4. Eyes of Buddha
  5. Eye of God
  6. Patron Saints of Eyes and Vision
  7. Ex-voto and Milagros

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Amulets and Talismans

Eyes have long been a powerful symbol of the supernatural.

More from our collection

American Academy of Ophthalmology