Grateful Patient Honors UAMS Opthalmologist with $162,000 Gift to Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute

By Benjamin Waldrum

“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. His legacy will continue as the Jones Eye Institute saves sight through its mission of patient care, education and research.”

Shock, a distinguished professor in the Department of Ophthalmology in the UAMS College of Medicine and founding director of the Jones Eye Institute, treated Karen Burks for years following a botched eye surgery by another provider.

“Karen and Roy are wonderful individuals,” Shock said. “We greatly appreciate their generosity in my honor and to the Jones Eye Institute.”

Burks has macular degeneration in her right eye and receives monthly injections to keep her vision stable. Macular degeneration results from deterioration of the central portion of the retina, which is the part of the eye that records images. It is the leading cause of vision loss in people over 50, affecting more than 10 million Americans.

In her left eye, Burks is almost completely blind, the result of a laser eye surgery gone wrong. Years ago, she developed central serous chorioretinopathy (CSC) in her left eye, a condition where fluid builds up under the retina and distorts vision.

“This was right after my mother died,” she said. “I developed what looked like an upside-down bird in my eye. It was so distinct that I could draw it.”

Stress is a major risk factor for CSC. With time and effort, Burks was able to reduce her stress level to where the image in her eye became smaller and “looked like a crescent moon.” At that point, her ophthalmologist recommended surgery to correct the issue. Recovery was supposed to take 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.

“Dr. Shock helped me through that,” she said. “He was so helpful to me during a very difficult time. I probably couldn’t have made it through without him.”

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.”

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and eight institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute, Institute for Digital Health & Innovation and the Institute for Community Health Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.