Fort Bend artists with devastating eye conditions continue their craft

FORT BEND, Texas – Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is very common. 11 million people in the U.S. have it, according to the CDC. Glaucoma, another common eye condition, affects three million Americans. Both conditions can lead to blindness.

And two female artists in Fort Bend understand the risk of losing their sight but it’s not stopping them from using their artistic vision.

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Brenda Bowman was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2017 and explains how she is losing vision in the top corner of her eye. With glaucoma, she said, you lose peripheral vision first.

With AMD, Susan Salter explained what you can and can’t see is different than glaucoma. Salter said, for her, colors look different or odd now. One could imagine both women’s art will change, if not be impossible, with loss of vision.

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However, Salter keeps one famous artist in mind for inspiration.

“Georgia O’Keeffe, who’s one of my heroines you might say, because she was diagnosed with macular degeneration and in her later years, in her 90s, her she lost her eyesight, she became blind,” Salter said. “But she started doing sculpture, which, you know, is very tactile, and you can, you know, you can tell what you’re doing with your hands. But she kept on going. She kept on producing art until the very end.”

Risk factors for both glaucoma and macular degeneration have some similarities including Age (55 and older), family history, and high blood pressure.

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Both women want you to be aware, there is no cure for these conditions. Although, for some people, there may be drops to help slow the progression.

“You can kind of keep the progression from occurring too swiftly and that’s kind of the best you can hope for,” Bowman said.

Talk to your doctor about a routine eye exam that can easily detect these conditions.

“The test to do for glaucoma is completely painless,” said Bowman. “I say prayers of Thanksgiving every morning that today I can see.”

“I want to see everything I can still see, while I can still see it,” Salter added.

The women currently have an exhibit on display, honoring women in the arts, at the Fort Bend Museum; It is open until Friday, April 12. The Fort Bend Museum hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday.

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Spring Art Exhibit and Preview Night:

The Art League of Fort Bend will host its Spring Art Exhibit (Saturday, April 20) and first-ever Preview Night (Friday, April 19, 6-9 pm). The exhibit will host well over 100 pieces of art from Fort Bend County artists, as well as works in adjoining studio and gallery spaces. A fun event is being planned, complete with many opportunities for attendees to meet the artists, visit the studios, purchase original artwork, and participate in the world of art for the evening. The exhibit will be judged the next morning, and qualifying pieces will move forward to the Lone Star Art Guild Show in June.

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