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  • Doug Cook

Lincoln’s Eye Position

If one surveys the available portraits seen on the internet of Abraham Lincoln, a few will show an eye turn.


This type of strabismus is called a left intermittent hypertropia.  There is a deviation of the left eye upward.

Most images show Lincoln’s eyes pointing straight which suggest the problem was not constant.

The image above is probably amongst the most well known of Lincoln portraits and also one which shows the problem.  His left eye is deviating upward slightly revealing more of the white part of his eye (the sclera) than in his right eye which is looking into the camera.

Another image illustrates the problem – perhaps more so.


Most other portraits of Lincoln show a head tilt to the right which could be a compensation for the relative weakness of an extraocular muscle producing the deviation.

Finally, what if one applied colorizing technology to Lincoln’s portrait?  You may come up with this result.  Coloring of an image taken by Alexander Gardner on February 5, 1865 and colorized by James Nance for the Abraham Lincoln Art Gallery.


His head tilts to his right slightly.

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