Thanks to AmazonSmile, you can support Saving Sight’s mission to change lives by saving sight when you shop online this holiday season and all year long. Simply shop at smile.amazon.com and pick Saving Sight as the charitable organization you want your purchases to support.
AmazonSmile features the same products, prices and Amazon Prime member benefits as Amazon.com with one awesome difference: Amazon donates 0.5% of all eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the nonprofit of your choice through the Amazon Smile Foundation. With AmazonSmile you can get the products you need and support Saving Sight’s charitable programs at no additional cost to you.
Follow these 4 simple steps to get involved with Saving Sight’s mission and support our important work through your online shopping.
Login with your existing Amazon customer account or create a new account.
Search “Saving Sight” in the “pick your own charitable organization” field and select “Saving Sight”.
Shop and watch contributions to Saving Sight from your purchases grow.
If you have already completed these steps to set up your AmazonSmile account and designate Saving Sight as your charity of choice, thanks for your support! You will not need to set up your account again. Simply log-in and shop Amazon at smile.amazon.com to direct Amazon Smile Foundation contributions to Saving Sight.
Visit AmazonSmile here to learn more about the AmazonSmile Program.
Saving Sight has joined #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide.
Occurring this year on December 3rd, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday kicks off the holiday giving season, inspiring people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to support the causes they believe in.
Help us change lives by saving sight with a gift on Tuesday, December 3rd and share your giving story on social media with #GivingTuesday
Show others in your social media networks why you support Saving Sight by taking an #UNselfie. The #UNselfie or selfless selfie is a powerful way to show how you choose to give and why that cause is important to you.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) annual meeting was held in San Francisco this October. This meeting is the world’s largest association of eye physicians and surgeons, bringing together leaders from around the world.
Our Saving Sight Team attends each year to learn about new trends in eye banking and ophthalmology, and to let our partners know innovations we are exploring. Attending also allows us to be a resource to our partners in sharing information to those who couldn’t attend or might have missed part of the meeting. This experience allows us to learn together side-by-side and be a stronger support to our partner surgeons in their work.
In case you missed AAO, or if you want a refresh, here are our top takeaways from the conference and presentations:
Congratulations to Dr. Shahzad Mian on being awarded the R. Townley Paton Award at AAO 2019! This award is the Eye Bank Association of America’s highest honor for corneal physicians and is presented annually to an ophthalmologist in recognition of his/her outstanding contribution to eye banking and EBAA. Dr. Mian presented his R. Townley Paton Lecture entitled, Defining Competency for Cornea Surgeons: Fellowship and Beyond. During the lecture, Dr. Mian highlighted the goals of cornea fellowship in training physicians to provide the best care to patients. As the field of corneal transplantation continues to evolve, so too must training models and continuing education. His passion for education is clear, and our Saving Sight team was privileged to host Dr. Mian in St. Louis at our last DMEK wet lab in 2018. Saving Sight thanks Dr. Mian for his contributions to our DMEK wet lab and to the eye banking industry as a whole.
During AAO, there was continued talk about the use of antifungals in Optisol. The EBAA reported a primary graft failure even with the use of antifungals. Some eye banks are increasing the concentration in hopes of improving efficacy. Many physicians are concerned about the possible toxic exposure to the tissue. This remains a controversial topic and few eye banks are adopting the use of antifungals.
During the Cornea and Eye Banking Forum, an interesting lecture on the Comparison between Preloaded and Non-Preloaded Descemet Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty was presented. This was pertinent for our partners who are considering DMEK and preloaded DMEK. The conclusion outlined that preloaded DMEK “showed good efficacy with similar visual outcomes, reduced graft detachment and a significantly lower rebubbling rate, compared with non-preloaded DMEK.” In addition, the study showed preloaded DMEK surgery time was significantly shorter than non-preloaded DMEK, improving efficiencies in the operating room. Another presentation of interest during the Cornea and Eye Banking Forum was DSAEK Failure in Eyes with Pre-Existing Glaucoma. The study looked at risk factors for DSAEK failure in glaucomatous eyes. The conclusion suggests glaucoma is strongly associated with a greater risk of Descemet’s stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK) failure.
Several interesting articles were presented during Cornea Subspecialty Day, as well. Chief among them was EK Alphabet Soup: Which Flavor to Choose. This article by Dr. Marjan Farid provided a great summary on endothelial keratoplasty procedure choices, including DSAEK, DMEK, PDEK, and DWEK/DSO. The conclusion showed that EK is the standard-of-care for endothelial disease. In addition, DMEK provides better visual recovery; DSAEK is of value in complex eyes; and DWEK shows promise in central Fuchs-related cases. Cornea Subspecialty Day also had an interesting talk by Dr. Audrey Talley Rostov on an Update on Medical and Surgical Management of Dry Eye Disease. Dry eye disease affects more than 16 million people. One topic touched upon under pharmacologic management of dry eye is the use of serum tears. As co-founder and processor of Vital Tears autologous serum eye drops, this talk was very informative for Saving Sight to listen to. It allows us to see how Vital Tears and other techniques can be an asset to our physician partners.
“Since I had my cornea transplant my experience has been filled with joy because, for the first time, I do not feel like there’s anything that can hold me back. I feel like I can literally do anything without worrying about my sight,” says Casey. Casey is currently a dual major student and is studying Criminal Justice and Psychology with credentials in International Conflict and Child/Adolescence Development. When Casey was fifteen years old he developed a cataract on his left eye. Without cataract surgery, doctors said he would go blind in that eye. “However doctors did not know whether the surgery would restore my sight,” said Casey. “I had the surgery and waited a few months to see if my sight would be restored.
The surgery was successful in removing the cataract and it didn’t leave me blind, but it made my vision worse. However I never told anyone because I didn’t want to feel like a burden.” A few years later, Casey told his family and eye doctors that his vision had worsened in his left eye. His doctors told him that a cornea transplant was needed to restore his vision. Casey, now twenty-one years old, says his experience with his cornea surgery was a little frightening. “My doctors had given me so much hope, however I was fearful the surgery would not be successful – I was scared to believe.”
Casey’s cornea transplant was a success and his vision is continuing to improve during his healing process. “One of my favorite things to do is play video games and before my transplant I had to literally sit right in front of the television in order to see the game more clearly, but now I do not have to be so close,” says Casey. He can now see things further away as well. He is able to see road signs more clearly and looks forward to his doctors clearing him to drive. Prior to his transplant, he also had to have large font and use a magnifying glass on his phone. Now he enjoys putting his phone in standard mode to view his text messages. “I have learned a lot during this long process. I learned that there are hundreds of people like me out there who need a second chance at living. I know as a recipient I have the power to spread my message to people.
Organizations like Saving Sight are helping to restore sight to those like me who need it.” He adds that when it comes to donating, it’s about saving a life; it’s about restoring someone’s way of living and giving them hope for a better future. Casey chose to write a letter thanking his donor family as well. “After my cornea transplant I was approached about writing a letter to my donor family and I just loved the idea. Because of their family’s sacrifice, I am now able to see clearly and I just wanted to tell them thank you for what they have done for me.” I’m just grateful to my doctors who were amazing and who gave me hope and inspired me and to the donor family who during their tragedy and loss chose to donate. And I’m also very thankful to my family who are awesome people, drove me when I couldn’t drive, and took off work to come to my appointments.”
Casey has designated his decision to join the donor registry at his local DMV. “I love to help people and so on my license I chose to be a donor because I believe if someone is out there who needs it then why not donate?” You can join Casey by registering to be an organ, eye and tissue donor at your local DMV or at registerme.org.
One of Barb’s Favorite Songs Includes the Words: “If I can help somebody as I pass along, If I can cheer somebody with a word or song, If I can show somebody he is travelling wrong, Then my living will not be in vain.”
“My mom was ALWAYS happy! She was everyone’s best friend and she never met a stranger,” says Tamika of her mom, Barb. “She had the most beautiful smile and the most distinctive laugh ever!”
Tamika adds that Barb was an expert shopper and bargain-hunter who loved finding deals on clothes and shoes, but especially loved purchasing home decor. “She took pride in her decorating skills, and loved searching magazines for the latest in interior design. She loved cooking and enjoyed entertaining friends at her home, and was also an avid reader. She would read a book a day! Above all else, she loved spending time with her family – especially her grandchildren. She was definitely their biggest fan.”
When Barb passed away, she was able to give the gift of sight to others as an eye donor. “My mom made the choice to become an organ donor through the DMV and encouraged me to do the same,” says Tamika. “That’s the type of person she was…always a giver. She impacted so many people – her funeral services were attended by over 400 people!”
Tamika chose to write to her mother’s recipient through Saving Sight’s Correspondence Program because she felt it was important to make that connection with her recipient. “I wanted them to know more about their donor, and I wanted to learn more about them as well. It’s mind-blowing to know that there’s a part of her that lives on in someone else!”
“I’d like to believe that someone’s life has been enhanced because of my mom’s donation. I hope that they know that by receiving any part of her, they are connected to a brilliant, strong, loving, faith-filled person.”
“#LiveLikeBarb was something that I came up with right after my mom passed away,” says Tamika. “So many people spoke about how they aspired to be like her or how they admired the type of person she was. That hashtag is a small reminder that we should all strive to live the way she did. Even while living with Congestive Heart Fail-ure, she never allowed her health to slow her down. She always had joy, was always quick to forgive, she never complained, and she lived a life of gratitude. Who wouldn’t want to Live Like Barb? The buttons are just a tangible reminder of that – I usually keep several on hand at all times because I’m always running into a classmate of hers, a for-mer co-worker…even her favorite cashier at JCPenney asked for one!”
“In honor of my mom’s birthday, I got Live Like Barb tattooed on my shoulder…I’m sure she was somewhere rolling her eyes about that!”
“I made a promise that my mom would be famous – that her name and legacy would live forever. I don’t ever want her story to be solely about me and my journey without her…my goal is to have her life story impact others in a way that helps them to live their lives in a more meaningful way.”
Joining the Donor Registry
For those considering joining the organ, eye and tissue donor registry, Tamika says: “The most important thing that we can do while we’re here on earth is to be a blessing to someone. That’s how you leave a legacy, by ensuring that someone else has a second chance at life through the generosity of organ donation. It’s a chance to be a hero.” You can join the donor registry at your local DMV or at www.registerme.org.