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Subspecialties Imaging & Diagnostics, Comprehensive

The Art of Eyes 2019

Eyesight, arguably the most precious of our senses, is naturally associated with perceiving beauty, and many artists are preoccupied with capturing the intriguing organs we use to view the world. We present this year’s best ophthalmic images, through the eyes of ophthalmic and documentary photographers, watercolor artists, pathology technicians, veterinary ophthalmologists and interdisciplinary artists – a true feast for the eyes.

Psychedelic Eye

Psychedelic Eye
Blue Corneal Section

These images, captured by Steve Thomson, were produced using a slit lamp and customized Adobe Lightroom filters to provide a different perspective.  

Thomson trained as an ophthalmic photographer and has been involved with ophthalmic photography for almost 40 years. In the course of his career, he has contributed to the development of several camera systems and software applications relating to slit lamp imaging, and he teaches regularly on the subject in countries around the world.

Thomson explains: “I am a keen travel photographer, and the idea of creating artwork from ophthalmic images originated after experimenting with some travel images, where the composition was good, but the lighting was less than optimal. The introduction of artificial coloring appears to bring an extra dimension to the images. Currently there are eight images in the series, and I plan to work on a few more. Limited edition prints of each image will be auctioned with all profit going to the Fight for Sight charity that is also supported by the RCO in the UK.”

Setting Sail

The two images – a stain of retina showing vessels – were captured by Paula Keene Pierce.
Pierce is a graduate of the first class of the Histotechnology Technician Program at Rose State College in Midwest City, Oklahoma, USA. After graduating and obtaining her HT registry in 1979, she began working at the Eye Pathology Laboratory in Oklahoma City. As the sole technician, she learned the art and science of preparing whole eye diagnostic slides from human clinical and animal research ophthalmic tissue specimens. She now uses her expertise in processing tissue specimens at Excalibur Pathology, which specializes in ophthalmic pathology and histological techniques.

Eye Care for All

This patient has lost sight in one eye due to an eye condition that could easily have been treated had she been able to reach an eye clinic. Women and girls are more likely to be affected by eye problems than men and boys and then less likely to seek treatment due to a gender inequality that favours males over females.
An elderly and infirm patient has her blood pressure taken at a community clinic in Otuke. The nearest hospital with an eye department is in Lira, 80 kilometres away. Poor often unpassable roads as well as the distance means that this patient has never had an eye check.
Two community health workers check patients vision using two charts; one for those who can read English and one for those that cannot. This test of visual acuity is one of the most basic eye checks and is known the world over. Results of the test will determine if the patient needs to go on to see a doctor or not.
A patient attending a community eye clinic in Wakitaka near Jinja to the east of Uganda is prescribed a pair of reading glasses. The effect on quality of life is great; many patients comment that they can, once again, read their Bibles.
A patient has the back of his eye examined using a specialist camera at a clinic in Rwemiyenje near Mbarara. The camera can be operated by non-specialist health workers, and the resulting images checked later by an eye doctor.
Young girls attending a school close to an eye clinic in Rwemiyenje have their eyes checked. In rural communities, children are less likely to suffer from eye problems due to excessive screen use but still need screening for other common problems like squint that might affect their vision. The clinical team usually includes a health worker who specialises in children’s eye complaints.

Photographer Terry Cooper should be well known to The Ophthalmologist’s readers as a force fighting for equal access to eye care in Africa. The images presented here come from his unpublished new story “Avoidable Eye Disease in Uganda: A Neglected Epidemic.”

Cooper wrote: “Patients living in rural communities in low- to middle-income countries face significant barriers to accessing eye care. These patients are often the most vulnerable in society; the elderly and young girls and women in whom eye problems are more prevalent than in boys and men. These barriers are recognized by governmental health systems, and the WHO has set a goal that envisages universal access to comprehensive eye care services. Configuring an eye care program where diagnosis and treatment is offered to patients in their local communities rather than have them visit a clinic, often far away from where they live, presents its own set of challenges. These images were taken during a project developing a community eye healthcare screening service in Uganda. The service providers were primarily ophthalmic clinical officers (OCOs) and ophthalmic nurses (ONs), who recognize the lack of ophthalmologists in regions like this one. A group of OCOs and ONs participated in a training workshop program, which enabled them to subsequently plan and run a series of community eye clinics, with the objective of diagnosing the most common eye complaints, with an emphasis on diabetic eye disease.”

The Rub of the Green

The author of these works of art, Kaitlin Walsh, is an independent artist specializing in abstract anatomy watercolors. From a young age, Walsh exhibited an immense fascination with both art and science. She focused her studies on both disciplines, taking both medical and art courses. This culminated in a graduate degree in Biomedical Visualization at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Soon after graduation, Walsh married and had her first child, who spent several months in the hospital recovering from severe prenatal and early-birth complications. This was Walsh’s primary motivation to focus on her passion: portraying the beauty and complexity of the human body, as her son’s initially precarious health status, while frightening, also compelled her to appreciate that his body was functioning well. Walsh now lives and creates in Omaha, Nebraska, USA.

True Colors

These images, showing a normal canine retina, and the optic nerve in a dog with Collie Eye Anomaly, were taken by Laura Barnes, a veterinary ophthalmologist from Austin, Texas, USA.

As Right as Rain


The author of this playful and quirky image is Sophia Maayan Weisstub, an interdisciplinary artist based in Tel Aviv, Israel. A self-taught painter and photographer, Weisstub uses doodles drawn on self-portraits. She explains: “My first body doodle was done almost nine years ago. Observing my own eye, I realized that the line formed by the eyelashes resembles a horse’s mane. It excited me. I shared this observation with others by posting my first eye doodle. That opened a whole new world of images: repetitive patterns of animals and plants represented in human physiology. I was fascinated, and looked into the phenomena and meaning of patterns in nature.  

The themes in this series are based on images that come to me as I examine different body parts. The surfacing is a combination of unconscious content and concrete visual stimulation. Having the image in mind, I search for ways to express it in a way that will share the story, feeling and meaning of it. Some of the creations are funny, romantic, sad and even scary or uncomfortable, much like the range of our emotional experience. Through my work, I would like to provide the viewer with a new perspective on what seems obvious and mundane: a new look at our surroundings and at ourselves.”  

Fearful Symmetry

These images of a patient with bilateral diabetic retinopathy with diabetic macular edema (DME) and diffuse leakage were captured by David Eichenbaum, Partner and Director of Clinical Science at Retina Vitreous Associates of Florida, board certified ophthalmologist in Tampa, Florida, USA, fellowship-trained in diseases and surgery of the vitreous and retina. These photos, taken pre-treatment, show relatively symmetric bilateral disease, which is a common presentation in DME.

Ocular Observatory

This amazing image, using eye anatomy to represent astronomical objects, was created by Carissa Hurdstrom, Senior Ophthalmic Photographer at Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Eye Center in Aurora, CO, USA.

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