The last time we saw King Viserys Targaryen in House of the Dragon, he was a man that was skin and bones, as he covered the right side of his face with a bandage when Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen visited him in his chambers. Then, when he went to the throne room and, later on, had dinner with his family, he wore a half-masked. But he revealed what had happened to his face as he lost his right eye, and his eye socket was entirely hollow. So, how did King Viserys lose his eye?
King Viserys lost his eye because his disease was basically causing his body to deteriorate faster than what is natural. This disease is a kind of leprosy that ate him up from the inside and caused his body to decay faster. As such, he began losing body parts, including his hand and his eye.
The fact that Viserys was losing parts of his body in a slow and steady manner was one of the hardest things to watch in House of the Dragon, as he was a good man that deserved a better way to go out. But what’s done is done, as Viserys’s death caused the entire realm to side with either the Blacks or the Greens in the Dance of the Dragons. Now, let’s look at what happened to Viserys.
What Was Viserys Suffering From?
It was clear at the very start of House of the Dragon that King Viserys Targaryen didn’t have long to live. He was already diagnosed with a weird and odd disease that caused his body to deteriorate slowly while his skin was showing wounds and signs of decay. This happened in a slow and steady manner. And Viserys believed that he may have contracted this disease when he got himself wounded by one of the swords on the Iron Throne, as we all know that those swords aren’t exactly clean and could contain several bacteria and micro-organisms.
Of course, from one episode to another, we saw how Viserys was quickly aging and deteriorating, even as all of the other characters hardly aged at all. We saw that the likes of Corlys Velaryon, Daemon Targaryen, and Otto Hightower still looked relatively young even though they were just about as old or even older than Viserys. In that regard, it was clear that his disease was steadily eating him up from the inside and was causing his body to decay and deteriorate faster.
By the time we reached episode 8, King Viserys was already skin and bones. He looked like a walking corpse that was basically living off milk of the poppy, which allowed him to ease his pain but was potent enough to dull his mind. He even lost an eye and a hand due to this disease. So what was the disease that Viserys was suffering from?
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly’s West of Westeros podcast, Paddy Considine, who played King Viserys, gave his insight on the type of disease his character was suffering from. In the podcast, he said:
“He’s actually suffering from a form of leprosy. His body is deteriorating, his bones are deteriorating. He is not actually old. He’s still a young man in there. He’s just, unfortunately, got this thing that’s taken over his body. It becomes a metaphor for being king, and the stress and strain that it puts on you, and what it does to you physically, what it does to you mentally.”
In that regard, this type of leprosy that Considine was talking about turned Viserys into a leper that was steadily deteriorating due to how rapidly the sickness was eating his skin and muscle tissues up. Of course, we all know that leprosy now has a cure that would allow any doctor to easily treat this disease, but the understanding of medicine during the time of House of the Dragon was quite poor. There is also the possibility that the maesters were using the wrong treatment on him, as they were just using leeches on him.
That said, this disease was so potent that King Viserys never recovered from it. It slowly turned him into an old man that hardly looked anything like the good-looking leader that he was at the start of the series. And he eventually died at the age of 52 but looked like a hundred years old at the time of his death.
How Did His Disease Take His Eye?
Of course, during the time when Princess Rhaenyra visited King Viserys in his chambers in episode 8, he was all wrapped up in bandages, as only the left side of his face could be seen. His mind was clouded by milk of the poppy because he often drank it due to the severe pain his body was constantly feeling.
Still, because he was moved by his love for his daughter Rhaenyra, he decided to forego milk of the poppy and decided to attend the petition hearing for the rightful heir of Driftmark. He marched to the throne room on his own strength and sat on the Iron Throne despite the fact that he was basically a walking corpse. And he was wearing a gold mask to cover the right side of his face.
After re-affirming that Prince Lucerys Velaryon was the rightful heir to Driftmark, Viserys sat with the entire family for what he knew was going to be the last time that all of his family members would be under one roof. He was happy enough to see them all there but was saddened by how distant his family had become, as we all know that Princess Rhaenyra and Queen Alicent weren’t exactly friends anymore.
In what was one of the strongest gestures we have seen in the series, King Viserys took off his mask so that all of the different members of House Targaryen could see him as he was and at his weakest moment. He no longer had his right eye, as all that was left on that spot was a hollow hole. So, how did Viserys lose his eye in House of the Dragon?
We can make the assumption that King Viserys Targaryen lost his eye in the same manner that he lost his hand earlier in the series. Of course, this is due to the effects of the disease that he was suffering from, as it was clear that his body was steadily deteriorating. The disease was eating him up from the inside and was causing him to lose different parts of his body in a slow and steady manner.
It must have been that the leprosy-like disease attacked the tissues in his right eye, which caused him to lose it entirely. This was probably similar to how he lost his hand, as the disease caused it to steadily decay until he eventually lost the entire hand.
This explains why King Viserys needed to wear a bandage over the right side of his face while he was resting. Of course, because the disease was eating away at him from the inside, that also explains why he needed to drown himself in the milk of the poppy so that he could feel numb from the constant episodes of pain he was experiencing.