The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has received a $162,000 commitment from Karen and Roy Burks in honor of John Shock, M.D., to support research at the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute.
Dr. Shock is a distinguished professor in the Department of Ophthalmology in the UAMS College of Medicine and founding director of the Jones Eye Institute. Patient Karen Burks received treatment from Dr. Shock after a botched eye surgery from another provider.
“Patient care from Dr. John Shock as well as other faculty at the Jones Eye Institute has saved vision for many patients like Karen Burks,” said Paul Phillips, M.D., Eye Institute director and UAMS chair of ophthalmology. “We are fortunate to have had Dr. Shock as founder of the institute as well as a pioneer in ophthalmology.”
Dr. Shock is greatly appreciative of the generosity from Karen and Roy in his honoring to the Jones Eye Institute.
Burks experiences macular degeneration in her right eye. The diagnoses of macular degeneration results from deterioration of the central portion of the retina, which is the part of the eye that records images. As she receives monthly injections to keep her vision stable, macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in people over 50.
The result of a previous laser eye surgery leaves Burks almost completely blind in her left eye, where she developed central serous chorioretinopathy (CSC). This condition causes fluid buildup under the retina, distorting her vision.
After Burks’ mother died, she developed a distinct look to her eye looking like an upside-down bird, she describes. “It was so distinct that I could draw it.”
Stress is a major risk factor for CSC. After reducing stress level, Burks’ image in her eye became smaller and “looked like a crescent moon.” At that point, her ophthalmologist recommended surgery to correct the issue, with expected recovery of four months. “I never had any central vision from the time of the procedure to this day,” she said, although she does retain a small amount of peripheral vision in the eye.
Following the surgery, the ophthalmologist’s insurance company recommended permanently blinding her left eye, to help her right eye “take over” her vision. Burks sought out Shock for a second opinion. “He told me, ‘Karen, as long as you have a spot of life left in that eye, I would not have it put out,’” she said.
From then on, she became his patient.
“He was so helpful to me during a very difficult time. I probably couldn’t have made it through without him,” she said. “Dr. Shock helped me through that.”
Burks wanted to give back to the Jones Eye Institute. She and her husband Roy set up a charitable remainder unitrust, an estate planning tool that provides income to a named beneficiary during the grantor’s life and then the remainder of the trust to a charitable cause. The trust provides variable income to the beneficiary based on the fair market value of the assets in the trust. The amount is revalued each year.
“It’s a good thing for people to set up a trust like that so they can keep their money and give to a charity too,” said Burks. “And the best charity for me was UAMS.”