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The paintings (l to r) chronicle a journey from macular degeneration back to sight.

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Verle Mickish remembers it clearly, the morning he walked into the bathroom to shave and couldn’t see his face.
     Mickish had suffered with dry macular degeneration, the milder form of this blinding disease for three years, but this was something new. His condition had suddenly changed to the wet form, which robs sight from millions each year.
     The news was particularly hard for Mickish, who is an artist. Art has been his life’s passion, as shown by more than 300 published works he has produced, a portfolio of national prize-winning paintings, a long career as an art teacher, and a slew of distinguished service awards and recognition from national and state arts education groups. How could he continue to paint when he couldn’t see?
     Luckily, Miskish qualified for a clinical trial at Emory run by ophthalmologists Baker Hubbard and Dan Martin. The treatment involved receiving injections of medication directly into his eye once a month for two years. In December 2003, Mickish received his first injection, and only three months later, his sight began to improve. Today, his right eye has 20/40 vision.
     During the trial, he continued to dabble with painting. Colors were difficult to see so he returned to his hobby of cartooning, bringing the Emory Eye Center staff a new cartoon each visit. (See Moving Forward : Saving sight with microneedles and fish oil.) Changes in the paintings above parallel his treatment. He went from seeing only grays and no distinctive shapes to the return of color and definition.
     “Thank God for Emory,” says Mickish, who has returned to a spate of new projects, including story boards for one of the many children’s books he is illustrating.



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