When Victorian artist Di Lockwood started seeing distortion of her bathroom floor, she found it rather engaging. It appealed to her creative imagination. Although she didn’t realise it at the time, it was actually a symptom of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
“I wasn’t worried about it at all. I actually only went into the optometrist because I needed to get my glasses fixed. I’d broken them.
“The optometrist told me it was time for a check-up, so I had a macula check,” Di explains.
I was really lucky it was caught when it was, because it was really only by chance.Di Lockwood
Di was immediately referred to an ophthalmologist for treatment for wet (neovascular) AMD in her right eye. A few months later, her left eye “crashed suddenly”. She now receives regular injections to both eyes to stabilise her vision.
AMD is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia. One in seven Australians over the age of 50 – that’s 1.3 million people – have some signs of the disease.
May is Macula Month, an initiative of Macula Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA). We’re asking Australians to visit their eye health professional for a comprehensive eye examination, including a macula check.
Using art to express feelings about AMD
Before being diagnosed with AMD, Di knew nothing about the disease that has now compromised her vision. She is still able to drive and read electronic books (with enlarged font). But she can’t see faces in crowds, a loss that she finds hard to accept as an artist.
She says AMD has changed not just her life, but her art.
Her vision loss has made it too difficult to carve the fine lines required for print-making. Painting remains a joy and texture, colour and contrast have been more important in her work.
Di has used her art to express her feelings about macular disease.This led to a 2019 exhibition at the Doveton Library, in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, called ‘A Way of Seeing’.
Central to the exhibition is a mixed media canvas called ‘Landscape of My Right Eye’. It’s an artistic interpretation of the scan of her retina. Several other artworks speak to macular disease, including a self-portrait. Instead of weeping, Di’s eyes are bleeding.
Di hopes the exhibition will raise awareness of AMD and other macular diseases. She also hopes it prompts people to book an appointment with their eye health professional for a macula check.
‘A Way of Seeing’ by Di Lockwood was held May and June 2019 at the Doveton Library, as part of the 2019 City of Casey Exhibition Program.
Posted: 15 May 2019 and updated 23 March 2022