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Artist reclaims her work after simple eye surgery

Work by Arkansas artist Jodi Schull. (KATV Photo)

The overwhelming majority of Americans will develop cataracts by the time they are sixty-five, but many will start seeing symptoms long before that.

Colors and shapes are the basics of art, so for an artist, the ability to distinguish these is vital. One woman had a simple eye surgery to correct her cataract—allowing her to reclaim art, after symptoms changed the way she saw the world.

If you ask Jodi Schull what her favorite part of painting is, she'll tell you she loves to capture color. But as she developed a cataract, art brought her less and less joy: "My perception of color was way off. It was like everyone took all these wonderful colors, and poured a little bit of gray into all of them."

She stopped incorporating most colors into her work all together, and ultimately cut down her time painting from five or six hours a day, to just one.

The issue also began to impact her ability to handle daily tasks: "At night, I quit driving at night."

She realized it was time to make a change, and went in to see Dr. Ramona Davis at UAMS.

They decided that a procedure to move the cataract was best. Schull remembers her grandmother had a week's bedrest, and had to wear coke bottle glasses for the rest of her life after a cataracts surgery...

But there have been several advances, making this a relatively simple procedure. "We do it in a pain free, often suture free, stitch free, environment," explains Dr. Davis

Schull says the surgery was pleasant—she was awake and able to chat with Dr. Davis.

The surgery actually ended up inspiring one of her next projects: "I kept seeing these flashes of colors and these little streaks of colors."

She told Dr. Davis about what she was seeing as the surgery was performed, and ultimately gave her a painting to try and explain.

"I've heard other patients describe other colors, but for her, she was so excited about what she was seeing," says Dr. Davis. "She presented me with one of the best gifts and best insights into cataracts surgery that I've ever had."

This is how Schull’s work is now... full of color, nuance, and depth: "If you have any hesitation about having cataract surgery, don't. it's pretty tremendous."

Some cataracts can be treated with glasses, others require surgery. If you think you may have symptoms, or are interested in learning more, click here.

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