June 2018


Ophthalmologist’s artistic pursuits are varied and fulfilling

by Ellen Stodola EyeWorld Senior Staff Writer/Digital Editor

Dr. Terebuh practicing ballet at the Detwiler School of Dance in her hometown.

Dr. Terebuh’s painting, “In the Eye of the Beholder,” shows three poppies/hibiscus that are three fundi, each with a representation of different types of pathology. The red poppy/hibiscus shows red RNFL; glaucomatous nerve with an inferior APON; inferior – elevated malignant
melanoma with vessels arching over it; nasal – three flat scattered nevi; and superior – large flat choroidal nevus with drusen overlying.
The orange poppy/hibiscus shows orange RNFL; normal optic nerve; ARMD with SRNVM; and NPDR with scattered hard exudates and
micro-aneurysms. The pink poppy/hibiscus shows pink RNFL; papilledema, ora serrata; and six horseshoe tears surrounded by laser.

Dr. Terebuh shares her love for ballet and talent for drawing the optic nerve

Annette Terebuh, MD, Bellefontaine, Ohio, didn’t always know that she would be an ophthalmologist. In fact, she had planned to be a ballerina.
Dr. Terebuh began ballet dancing was she was just 3 years old, and she would practice almost every day. However, after her junior year of high school she realized that she wanted to take a different path. She spent a summer at ballet school in Croatia, dancing for 8 hours a day. Though Dr. Terebuh said she was great at ballet, especially among those in her small town, she realized she wouldn’t be the best on a bigger stage.
She decided to focus her pursuits on medicine. Though her father was also an ophthalmologist, she initially thought she might pursue a different specialty. Despite being interested in obstetrics, Dr. Terebuh said she found it hard to handle the complications that could arise in those cases. She was also interested in orthopedics but noted that she found it hard when limbs were out of place. Then she started thinking that she would in fact go into ophthalmology.
After practicing ophthalmology in Philadelphia for a number of years, Dr. Terebuh returned to her hometown to practice with her father. It was then that she decided to take up ballet again. After enrolling her daughter at the same ballet school that she had previously studied at with the same teacher, her teacher suggested that she may also want to start classes again.
“Ballet was my first love,” Dr. Terebuh said, noting that it helps teach discipline.
Dr. Terebuh said her ballet teacher retired a couple of years ago, so she has not recently been taking classes but expressed interest in taking it up again.
“At the end of the day, I couldn’t wait to go to my class,” Dr. Terebuh said. “No matter how tired I was before starting a class, I’d be completely rejuvenated by the end.”
Dr. Terebuh was featured in another way in her hometown, this time for painting, something she noted is much more a talent of her mother’s than hers. “I’m not a painter at all,” she said. “It’s my mom who’s the artist.”
Her mother is from the Netherlands, and her father is from Croatia. They met in the Netherlands after he escaped as a political refugee. He finished medical school in the Netherlands, met her mother, and they moved to the U.S., where she was born.
“My mom was a medical technologist by training but started to dabble in art when we were little,” she said. While Dr. Terebuh was growing up, her mother went to nursing school and assisted her father in surgery in his ophthalmology practice. Once her children were grown, she started to paint. Dr. Terebuh noted that both her and her mother’s houses are filled with paintings. Dr. Terebuh’s ophthalmology office is also full of her mother’s artwork.
Several years ago, the art league in her town was having an event for charity that Dr. Terebuh was asked to participate in. “We were asked to do a painting and have it auctioned off,” she said. “When my mom asked me to do this, I was hesitant because I thought I wasn’t good,” Dr. Terebuh said.
Despite her self-proclaimed lack of artistic ability, Dr. Terebuh said that one type of art that she excels at is drawing the optic nerve. “Every time I dilate a patient, I draw the optic nerve,” she said. In addition to using OCT and fundus photography technology, Dr. Terebuh will use her drawings to determine if a patient’s glaucoma is progressing.
For the charity painting, Dr. Terebuh thought that she could incorporate eyes. She thought this might not be something that people would be excited to look at, so she decided to combine her painting of eyes with her love of flowers and gardening.
This resulted in the final product of a painting of three fundus, with each becoming a flower demonstrating different pathology that turned into markings on the flower.
Dr. Terebuh noted that this was partly inspired by a former patient who had come into her office with acute posterior vitreous detachment and had brought along a drawing of his floaters from his perspective.

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Ophthalmologist’s artistic pursuits are varied and fulfilling Ophthalmologist’s artistic pursuits are varied and fulfilling
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