I was born with bi-lateral cataracts, so at 5 and 12 days of age, I had surgery. My lenses were removed from my eyes, so I was aphakic from birth until age 16.
I always wore very thick glasses or glasses plus contact lenses to obtain my best vision. There were no contact lenses that were strong enough to improve my vision to the point of functionality.
In addition to the lenses being removed, there are structural issues in my eyes including astigmatism, amblyopia in one eye, the pupil is very small and will not dilate in one eye, and the pupil is large and misplaced in the other. My pediatric ophthalmologist did what he could for me. But, I could not find a surgeon to help me, until I was 16. My vision WITH glasses/contacts was 20/100 and 20/200.
At age 16, I found an opthalmology professor who was willing to consider my case. He was able to do lens implants in both eyes, but because of structural issues, one had to be stitched into my eye such that I have permanent stitches in that eye. After that surgery, my vision improved to 20/60 and 20/100 WITH glasses. But, it was such a big blessing and improvement in my life. I still have to wear glasses and contacts, but I can drive, during the day and not on the highways, but I'm grateful for what I CAN do.
My eye surgeon is willing to do one more procedure on me that will further improve my vision: PRK (photorefractive keratectomy). This surgery is similar to laser or LASIK eye surgery. Because for most people this is a cosmetic procedure, it is not covered by insurance. My mom has made every effort to pay for all of my surgery copays, glasses, $800 contact lenses, etc, but the $3,900 for this surgery is just not in her teacher's-salary-budget.
I know not everyone is able to help, and it is hard to ask for help, but if you are able to help me, please know that I will pay it forward for years to come. I know I am blessed with the life I have. I appreciate what vision I do have. I appreciate the opportunities I have had in my life. Even if I cannot get this surgery to further improve my vision, I know I have more than so many other little children who didn't have insurance to get the five surgeries I've already received.
My goal is to serve as a model for other young kids with vision issues. I want to be an example of being proactive and making the best of what I DO have. I want to show them not to give up. I have always done everything the other kids do, sometimes not as well, but I work that much harder to make up for the difference. If you want to know more about what I have done with my life, please read my story on the link below.
Thank you for your consideration.
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