Ginia C.

Iconographer Continues Her Vocation with Help of Retina Specialist

Icon of the Archangel Raphael ‘written’ by Ginia C.

Less than a week after celebrating her 86th birthday, Ginia C. led a group of iconography students through Russia, and is planning a similar study trip to Istanbul (where Christian iconography began), Crete, and Athens when the COVID-19 pandemic permits.    

Ginia, ever the teacher, shared that iconography is closer to calligraphy than painting. “The intricate images require careful adherence to specific techniques, Church doctrine and history, and leaves little room for the iconographer’s personal response to what is being depicted. Every icon, whether it fills the dome of a great cathedral or graces a quiet spot in a home, requires weeks of research, and sometimes months of painstaking brushwork, gilding and varnishing.”

Given this, you’d never guess that Ginia also has age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that could have put an end to her icon-related activities. She was 82 when, without warning, she woke to find her eyesight was, literally, out of kilter. Familiar things like paintings, windows, even kitchen cabinets whose lines were straight when she went to bed, were now slanted and distorted. A hurried appointment with her ophthalmologist confirmed she had a problem and needed to see a retina specialist urgently.

"Without good eyesight, I couldn’t write or teach others how to write icons ... Dr. Tarabishy has made it possible for me to continue a productive and thoroughly satisfying life"

A quick search led her to ASRS member Dr. Ahmad Tarabishy for diagnosis and calm reassurance that he could help her manage wet AMD and improve her sight through what was then monthly eye injections. “You are fortunate,” he told Ginia. “Ten years ago, there was no medication, and I could only help you learn to deal with this condition.” By the time the treatments evolved into less frequent injections Ginia’s attitude of relief evolved further, into great respect and gratitude for Dr. Tarabishy and his clinic assistants.

“Dr. Tarabishy and his staff are splendid,” she said. “To them I am not simply a disease to be treated. I am a person who has a disease, but I am a person first.” 

Because Ginia’s AMD was caught early and has responded well to treatment, she continues her work writing icons, teaching and speaking. She encourages others not to let age or infirmities stop them from undertaking new things or seeking new experiences.  “Without good eyesight, I couldn’t write or teach others to write icons, or make study travel meaningful,” she said. “Dr. Tarabishy has made it possible for me to continue a productive and thoroughly satisfying life, and I’m sure I’m not the only patient who recognizes him as a healer”.