At the age of 58, Patty Gill noticed a dark cloud appear in the vision of one of her eyes. She didn’t think much of it at first, but after a number of visits to her eye doctor she learned she had wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – the most severe form of a blinding disease that affects over 1 million Canadians.
As a passionate, life-long painter and illustrator, Patty was terrified that her ability to be an artist would vanish along with her vision. She worried too about how it may affect her family.
AMD appears as two types – dry and wet. Together, they are the leading cause of vision loss in people over the age of 50. Dry AMD makes up 90% of cases and, as of yet, is untreatable. Wet AMD, occurs when blood vessels in the back of the eye begin to leak fluid. Though more rare than dry AMD, it presents the most acute risk of significant vision loss. Without immediate access to treatment, blindness can occur very quickly.
When Patty was diagnosed, there weren’t any treatment options for someone with wet AMD, but soon cutting-edge research was able to intervene in attempt to stop her disease’s progression. She began to receive pharmaceutical injections in her affected eye that slowed her vision loss to a near stand-still. Eleven years after, Patty’s other eye was also diagnosed with wet AMD, so her treatment regime was expanded to treat it as well.
Patty has continued treating her wet AMD ever since. Over the years, new wet AMD drugs have become available, and research is continually striving to improve their effectiveness, convenience and affordability.
Now, at 76 years old, Patty says these medications saved her vision. Following her diagnosis and treatment, she spent many years traveling as an ambassador for the AMD Alliance, discussing the disease, its prognosis and available treatments with patients across North America. Vision loss, and the ever-present threat of it stealing her remaining sight, was not going to deter Patty from fighting back.
Today, she is still able to create incredible paintings, and does so with her husband, Hugh. Together, they are now using their artistic talents to support the Foundation Fighting Blindness by auctioning their artwork at our national Comic Vision fundraiser. Proceeds help us support sight-saving research at universities and hospitals across the country, as renowned scientists seek new, improved treatments for AMD and, ultimately, to cure the disease outright.
“We give back because we know research will one-day discover a way to prevent AMD from ever stealing people’s sight,” says Patty. “Donating our talents to support the Foundation Fighting Blindness is our way of giving back. Our way to take a stand against blindness.”
“Working to prevent vision loss gives us a greater purpose,” adds Hugh. “Painting with this cause in mind makes us feel part of something crucially important; something extremely meaningful.”
You too, can support research that will restore hope and sight. Make a donation today.