One of the ways I process the things that go on in my life, besides excessive chocolate consumption and binge series watching on Netflix, is to do a painting about it. Ever since my eye sight started getting blurry in early 2012, vision has been on my mind. I did one painting exploring my angst over the initial diagnosis of Keratoconus, a degenerative eye disease that causes the deterioration of the cornea and brings with it ghosting, double or triple images, severe sensitivity to sunlight, dry eye and a host of other lovely challenges.

Since that painting my outlook on Keratoconus has changed. I made a choice about how I wanted to treat my KC and moved forward with my “new normal” eyesight. I have continued to educate myself on eyes, the diseases that can strike at our vision, and how this affects the daily lives of the people around us. Even though my KC is mild and I was able to treat it in such a way that it has had a fairly minimal impact on my life, it is a condition that is often on my mind. Much of my education about how KC and other vision conditions can affect people has been through the online friends I've made in forums, websites, and Facebook pages. Keratoconus, Pellucid Marginal Degeneration, retinal tears, Diabetic Retinopathy, Iritis, Uveitis, Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma, Cataracts, Blepharitis, Usher Syndrome, and all those other conditions that make vision a challenge, cause physical pain and emotional distress, cost A LOT of money, and can sometimes bring blindness, are things we don’t think about until it enters our life. And then we can’t STOP thinking about it. Here are a few of the paintings I've been working on. Here's a severe allergic reaction to, ironically, an allergy drop I was prescribed and a close up of my intac implant, which helps flatten the irregular cone of my cornea. Next to that is Mike Bravo's cornea transplant and Libby Tighe's daughters irregular cone. These are oil on canvas, each 8" X 8".


The people I've met on the internet are wonderful human beings. They are brave and supportive. They are warriors for their eye health, willing to share, listen and be decent. And here’s what they want; they want good eye care, they want doctors who are up on the latest techniques and not stuck in the past, they want people to attempt to understand the challenges they face every day, they want awareness of their diseases and progress towards treatments. While I’ve been kicking around my idea of doing a more comprehensive series of paintings about eyes and eye diseases, the drug company AVEDO has been trying to get FDA approval for its crosslinking solution (part of the treatment for Keratoconus) and has been denied. This treatment is the standard of care for the treatment of KC in Europe, and for private doctors in the USA. Since crosslinking’s success is highly time sensitive, as in, get it as quickly as you can as soon as you find out you have this, I've felt so frustrated. It’s given me a kick in the shorts to get word of my series out there. I can’t hasten FDA approval or do much to change the medical community in America, but I can use my art as a way to raise awareness about eye diseases and their impact. Maybe I can grab the attention of one doctor who has been misdiagnosing KC, or one mom who can’t figure out what is going on with their child’s vision, or one family who is being insensitive about Grandpa’s failing eyesight. This painting is an oil trying to show what the uncorrected vision of someone with moderate Keratoconus would be like. I tried to capture the triple vision and ghosting, the severe astigmatism and haloing around the light sources, and hopefully, the frustration someone might feel as they try to enjoy a special family moment with vision issues.

It’s been harder that I thought it would be to gather source images to work from. Finding people who are willing to be real and share photos of themselves during vulnerable times in their lives is not the easiest task. I have met some great people who've been willing to do this and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. Here is a watercolor, 14" X 14" of online friend Natalie Bryan's crosslinking procedure. Thank you for the great photo to work from, Natalie.

Perhaps this post will give others courage to share. If you have a story with photo documentation that you think could be included in my series, please email me at If you know of an eye doctor that might be interested in donating educational materials to help round out the show, or sponsor a painting, please contact me. If you know of a venue that might be interested in showing the works, let me know! This idea is in the beginning stages, and though I plan to continue to add works regardless of outside support, it would be cool if the show could turn into something more than a way for me to express myself. I hope my friends out there in “eye land” can feel my support for them as they battle through the daily challenges that vision problems can bring. You've got a weird, chicken lady artist over here in your corner, rooting for you and painting eyes!

The Chicken Chick