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.