• What We Are Doing Today - Harry A. Zink, MD: A Man of Visual Science and Visual Art

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    Ophthalmology, as we all know, is a visual science, both in terms of the anatomy and physiology with which we deal, but also in the sense that our diagnostic techniques primarily involve visualization of those anatomic structures and their function.

    As a result, ophthalmologists are especially interested in all aspects of vision, including the visual arts. For some of us, this has led to rewarding avocations during our professional careers and, in particular, during our retirement. A prime example is our friend and colleague, Harry A. Zink, MD.

    It seems appropriate to begin this new column with Dr. Zink, since he served for several years as chair of the Senior Ophthalmologist Committee, with which Scope is affiliated. Dr. Zink is well-known to most of us as a leader in our American Academy of Ophthalmology, which culminated in his tenure as president in 2006. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Ohio Wesleyan University, earned his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania and completed both his residency and glaucoma fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis.

    In addition to his excellence as a clinician in private practice in Wooster, Ohio, and an educator on the clinical faculty of Case Western Reserve University, where he received the Outstanding Clinical Attending Award, Dr. Zink has played an active role in the governance of our profession. He served as president of the Cleveland and Ohio Ophthalmological Societies as well working up through the ranks to the top position in our Academy.  

    With such a distinguished career, he could be excused for sitting back on his laurels in retirement. But, true to his character, Dr. Zink found another calling at which he has excelled. His interest in painting began when he was a child, but at age 11 he quit and did not take it up again until his retirement, when he took three months of lessons at a studio in San Francisco. Most of his classmates were in a four-year course, but he was a fast learner, and the quality of his work attests to that fact.

    Today, Dr. Zink paints periodically and, as he puts it, for his own enjoyment. Sometimes he works for six hours a day for a week or so and then takes a break for a month or more. “When I am engaged,” he says “it is a consuming experience, similar to surgery in that you are concentrating completely on something and indifferent to time. It involves some problem-solving, is tactile, visual and, when it works out well, is very satisfying.”

    Dr. Zink also notes that, “Since I have resumed painting, I am much more aware of my visual environment. I notice the shadows and colors around me; the details of things. Just as ophthalmologists become so sensitive to small variations when examining patients, I just seem to see more or be aware of more things visually.”

    A look at a small sample of his paintings in this issue of Scope testifies to the keen and sensitive eye with which he sees the world around us and the skill with which he can reproduce those images on his canvas, not only for his enjoyment, but also for ours.

    Editor’s note: This is the first in a new series of columns for SCOPE in which we will share with you, our readers, what some of our colleagues are doing in the latest chapter of their lives. We hope you enjoy the column and that you participate by letting us hear about what you, or someone you know, are doing today. If you have an interesting hobby that you would like to share with your colleagues, or know of someone who does, please contact Scope at scope@aao.org