Fact Check

Are These 'The Eyes That Saw a Nuke'?

Christer Strömholm's photograph of an anonymous blind girl from Hiroshima is one of his best known works.

Published Mar 23, 2015

 (WestLicht Photographica Auction)
Image Via WestLicht Photographica Auction
A photograph shows the face of a girl from Hiroshima who was blinded by an atomic bomb.

An image purportedly showing "the eyes that saw a nuke," a picture of a girl who was blinded by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in the closing days of World War II, is frequently shared on social media sites:

Although the image is a real photograph, the title commonly applied to it may be misleading.

The photograph comes from a set of pictures taken by Scandinavian photographer Christer Strömholm in Japan in 1961 and 1963, 16 to 18 years after a nuclear bomb was detonated over the city of Hiroshima. While it is not possible to verify the age of the woman shown in the photograph, she appears too young to have witnessed the nuclear blast first-hand, and the caption for the picture on Strömholm's official website identifies her simply as "the blind girl":

The photographs from Strömholm's "Hiroshima suite" included some pictures of children, presumably the children of Hiroshima survivors. It might be the case that the pictured girl's blindness was not directly caused by her exposure to the nuclear blast itself, but by something that took place much later in the aftermath of that blast, including a congenital disorder in a child born to survivors who were exposed to radiation.