And then there were things like cataracts. Even if you were born with spectacular vision, and were perfect in every physical and mental way, chances are you'd get rewarded for your superiority by living into old age and getting cataracts. For those of you without grandparents, cataracts are when the lenses of your eyes kind of cloud over, like a fog made of eyeball. Everything turns into a soft-focus glamour shot, minus the feather boas and piercing stares. Great if you're a porn director, not so great if you're just a person trying to get around in the world.
"The beach no longer has any meaning for me."
Of course, these days they can actually correct cataracts with surgery using state of the art technology, including "a thin ultrasound probe" that "uses ultrasonic vibrations to dissolve (phacoemulsify) the clouded lens." But eyeball surgery seems like the kind of thing that you couldn't even get in 1950, let alone centuries ago.
Actually, as far back as 1000 B.C., the Indian doctor Sushruta developed a procedure for declouding the lenses of the eye. Warning: surgical eye-poking ahead.