USH2020: Timothy Chambers shares how one sees with Usher syndrome (retinitis pigmentosa)

July 7, 2020

Timothy Chambers, USH ambassador

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Presentation Summary:

In a brief talk for the USH2020 Connections Conference, artist Timothy Chambers shares and demonstrates what it is like for someone with Usher syndrome. Responding to a challenge from his retinal specialist at Johns Hopkins, Tim uses his artistic skill and experience to demonstrate just what sight might be like for an Usher patient. With less than 10% of normal peripheral vision, Tim shows how someone with eye disease has to adjust to different lighting environments, and how companions can help people with sight issues. You will enjoy Tim's light-hearted survey of his own artwork, a brief review of historical artists who have also dealt with eye disease, and the analytical self-tests he shares of his own sight.

Speaker Bio:

Timothy Chambers is a professional artist, TED speaker, and author. Growing up amidst the scents and beautiful paintings in his father’s studio, Tim exhibited a passion for drawing from the start. He was trained by his dad (William Chambers) and later with other exemplary artists Cedric Egeli, Joanette Hoffman Egeli, and Richard Lack, each part of a great heritage of American master painters. Solid draftsmanship established him among the world’s best portraitists, and his foray into Impressionism with Henry Hensche sets his colorful landscapes and portraits apart from the crowd. Few artists are able to marry color and draftsmanship in such a passionate embrace.

Yet, the real test of Tim’s passion came when he was diagnosed with Usher syndrome, a disease that has resulted in Tim being legally deaf and blind (read more at This disability has not diminished his potential but enhanced it. Tim has discovered that art is more than sight; it is heart. “I find that the unseen is more powerful than what is seen. Before I painted merely what I saw. Now I judge my work by whether it transcends the soul, evoking the human spirit. We are all striving. Did my painting give you a glimmer of hope and joy ahead?”

Tim believes that beyond talent, there are two main ingredients evident in a great work of art: skill of application and joy of vision. Convinced that the former without the latter leaves a canvas void of purpose and impact, Tim puts his heart, mind, and hands into his work. As an art juror said of Tim’s work: “This artist sees the world beautifully.”

Watch his TED Talk “Seeing Beautiful” to learn the tool he discovered is essential to dealing with life’s challenges. View at

Tim has teamed up with the Usher Syndrome Coalition to offer a set of beautiful note cards depicting the way the world appears to someone with Retinitis Pigmentosa. All proceeds go to the Usher Syndrome Coalition.

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