Hi Visionaries! Dana Elizabeth Fripp here!
A lot of you may know me as an area singer, actress, journeywoman arts educator, and substitute teacher from New Haven, CT. It has been my joy to be able to share my passion for the arts with audiences and in classrooms for over 25 years. I'm here today requesting your assistance in getting back out there, just "doing life," but also doing what I love.
I am in IMMEDIATE NEED of critical vision care.
On Monday, February 19, 2018 I woke up excited about a list of tasks to accomplish, and really great career-related plans. I pulled my contact lens case off of the shelf, and was about to proceed as I normally would - only to find that my left contact lens had cracked. I was stranded at home, and extremely discouraged.
Why is this such a big deal? Why can't I just call 1-800-CONTACTS, and just get over it? Why couldn't I put on that spare pair of glasses all contact lens wearers own, and keep it moving?
Because my eyes - and my contact lenses - are very unique.
In 2010, I was diagnosed with a rare eye condition called PELLUCID MARGINAL DEGENERATION. To be brief, Pellucid marginal degeneration (PMD) is a degenerative condition that causes vision to deteriorate as the cornea slowly changes shape. While it sometimes can affect only one eye, PMD most often causes thinning, or ectasia, in both eyes.
Though the condition was most severe in my left eye, both of my eyes are affected, and I have experienced more degeneration in the right eye since my first diagnosis. My PMD world today without proper care looks like a very bad impressionist painting by day, and a glare of halos and unreconizable street signs at night.
At this point in my condition, doctors have already determined that PRESCRIPTION GLASSES NO LONGER WORK FOR MY CONDITION. From now on, every prescription needs to sit directly on the eyes in order for me to see. Therefore, I have to be fitted by a specialist with custom-made scleral contact lenses that specifically contour to the current shape of my eyes.
The Catch? NONE of the speciality lenses I need are covered by major insurance, or even Medicaid. As those with this rare condition (and a similar condition called KERATOCONUS) know, the major out-of-pocket costs of living with corneal degeneration are ridiculous. My now-damaged left contact lens is one in a pair that costs $1600.00, not under warranty, and I'm still paying for them. SO NOW, in addition to paying off the first pair, I NOW NEED A BRAND NEW PAIR.
Though it is very difficult for me to ask for help, MY SITUATION IS URGENT. I need to see a specialist immediately, be refitted for brand new scleral lenses, PAY FOR THEM IN FULL, and then STILL WAIT 7-10 DAYS for them to arrive. Without my full vision, my life has basically slowed to just shy of a halt. I am depending upon others who I'd rather be helping than them helping me. I need to get back to work as well. Since my right eye is doing all of the "heavy lifting," I tire very quickly. My balance is compromised, as is my depth perception. Headaches are a part of PMD because of light sensitivity, but without the contacts, the headaches are worse.
I'm also very concerned that if the left lens has broken, the right one is not too far behind. Without both lenses, I AM OFFICIALLY LEGALLY BLIND.
I'm reaching out, though it is really tough, because there are some great people out there who encouraged me to say something.
In helping me with this most urgent need, you will be getting me back into life: to reading, to driving, to working, to performing...to just be able to live as normally and vibrantly as possible with PMD. Because I also want to be fully accountable to all my "Visionaries," YOU WILL ALSO BE INVITED TO COME WITH ME ON MY PMD JOURNEY, THROUGH LIVE SOCIAL MEDIA EXPERIENCES, AND REGULAR UPDATES...AND (because I have no ability to to just take a gift without at least trying to give something back) SOME SPECIAL SURPRISES.
I want to thank all of you in advance for your help getting me back into everyday life, and back into pursuing my passions, and VISION for the future (SEE what I did there...and there?). Please feel free to share this link with people who might want to donate. I can't tell you how much this means to me and my family.
Signing off now because my right eye is pooped and scrolling is making me super dizzy.
SO MUCH LOVE AND THANKS,
- Jada Patrice Hooks
- Neal Klein
- Don and Dana Menzies
- Kelvin Youngs
- Erika Emerton