For years, Jerry of Shell Knob, Mo. had adapted to his lifelong nearsightedness, but by 1996, his vision had grown considerably worse.
During a routine eye exam, his ophthalmologist made an unexpected discovery – Jerry was afflicted with Fuchs’ dystrophy, a disease that threatens both the corneas and a person’s entire vision. Jerry was told that by age 70, he would have to have corneal transplants on both eyes.
The condition did not limit Jerry’s duties in human resources and government training, but by the time he retired, the disease affected his ability to drive at night and to experience many of his favorite activities, including watching sports.
“I love sports, baseball in particular, but in the last several years, I didn’t enjoy going to a ballgame,” remarked Jerry. “I couldn’t follow the ball at night especially. I was becoming blind, so I just quit going.”
By 2009, Jerry knew he wouldn’t be able to see well enough to pass a driver’s test and decided to proceed with a corneal transplant on his right eye under the care of Dr. John Cowden of the Mason Eye Institute in Columbia. In February 2010, Dr. Cowden performed Jerry’s surgery on his left eye as well.
Today, thanks to the generosity of his eye donors’ families, Jerry has 20/25 vision in his right eye and 20/40 in his left – even without glasses. He can now see the faces of his nine grandchildren, enjoy the freedom of driving on his own, watch a play or performance, and yes, catch all the excitement of his favorite game.
Said Jerry, “My eyesight was progressing to the point where everything would be a blur, so I am so thankful for the Eye Bank program and the people selfless in thinking ahead and donating the tissue for use. My wife and I will both be donors when we pass away. I had always thought about it before, but it really comes home when it benefits someone as much as it has benefited me.”
To learn more about becoming an eye donor in the state of Missouri, please visit www.donatelifemissouri.com.