The Gift of Sight is Priceless
For Ginny Doyle, an artist whose paintings have been exhibited from Beijing to New York to Paris, the process of losing her vision actually fostered new forms of visual expression. Describing her condition as driving on the Golden Gate Bridge in thick fog, she has been undergoing treatments for Macular Degeneration for over 5 years. She is able to continue creating art thanks to injections she receives every 6 weeks from Dr. Arthur Fu at the West Coast Retina Group. “I know that injections in the eye sound pretty horrifying,” she admits, but “Dr. Fu does them very smoothly and it’s really not painful.”
She remembers buying drugstore reading glasses with progressively stronger lens before finally making an appointment with San Francisco Ophthalmologist Dr. Gary Aguilar, who insisted that she see a retina specialist immediately, phoning for her appointment himself. Today she is most grateful for his referral. Doctors Aguilar and Fu are colleagues in the Department of Ophthalmology at California Pacific Medical Center.
According to Dr. Fu, wet macular degeneration results from abnormal bleeding in vessels underneath the retina and if untreated, the retina becomes scarred and cannot be repaired. For patients who receive an early diagnosis and treatment, damage can be halted through periodic injections
Before Ginny’s vision problems, she painted detailed figure studies and landscapes, and today, as a result of this challenge, she has developed more abstract expressionist types of paintings that tapped into her new feelings of coping with life. “One of the paintings I’m most proud of is called ‘Balance’ in which a man is dancing inside a nest. It’s always been my metaphor for home: your sense of being and who you are. The man is trying to grab at something that’s falling apart.”
“Losing my sight was scary at first, but expressing fear in my painting has helped me feel less afraid,” Ginny said. As part of her success story, “Balance” won the big prize at a juried exhibition of blind artists’ works in Chicago sponsored by Second Sense, a non-profit that helps artists cope with vision loss.
Ginny said that doing her art is “a lot more fun now. I’m achieving goals that I couldn’t achieve before, and people are buying more of my art than ever before.” Dr. Fu continues to provide injections every six weeks, and she can still realize her vision artistically.
Dr. Fu, who serves as Chief of the Retina service at California Pacific Medical Center volunteers at the Lions Clinic teaching residents and treating patients, says that the clinical trials conducted by his office permit experimental treatments that create new options for people with impaired vision. He enjoys having the chance to form a relationship with patients who see him frequently. “Ginny Doyle is really impressive,” he says, “just like Matisse who worked with scissors and colored paper when he couldn’t stand at an easel, Ginny has learned to accommodate her style.”