When you’re an artist, your eyes aren’t just the window to your world; they’re the window to helping others see creative, inspiring things in their own life. I’ve spent my career being an art teacher and a practicing artist, and along the way, I’ve managed to help preserve several very important archives chronicling Native American culture and art.
When I started having trouble seeing at the age of 60, I saw an ophthalmologist who diagnosed me with Fuchs Dystrophy, a deterioration of the corneas. I felt like my livelihood was at stake; that the one thing I loved most was being taken away.
Due to issues with diabetes, I wasn’t a good candidate for a cornea transplant at the time. Thankfully, my doctor explained that modern science was always progressing and that in the future I’d be eligible for restorative surgery.
Five years later, I had reached the point where I couldn’t see well enough to drive, read or watch television. My vision was like looking through wax paper. Sure enough, medicine had progressed and I was able to get the sight-restoring surgery I needed.
Because of the incredible gift I received, I feel like I won the lottery. I didn’t win money, but I got my life back and was able to accomplish the goals I have set out for myself these 73 years. Donation changes lives in a HUGE way. Why wouldn’t any of us want to help save or improve the lives of others if we could?
Joan volunteers with San Antonio Eye Bank.