Jennifer’s story

Jennifer’s story

Jennifer had been wondering if her glasses were too weak. Then one day, she suddenly experienced dramatic vision loss in her left eye. It was so severe, she was forced to stop driving. Her desperate search for help led her to Professor Ian McAllister at the Lions Eye Institute.

Jennifer was diagnosed with central retinal vein occlusion. The main blood vessel to her retina was blocked. With the blood and fluid unable to drain, pressure and swelling caused her vision to blur and distort. Until fairly recently, the cause of this condition was untreatable.

“It is in the back of the eye and it’s not possible to remove the blockage without damaging the optic nerve,” says Professor McAllister.

“With no treatment at all, most people would end up with no vision or very limited vision.”

Thanks to our generous supporters, Jennifer has hope. She was able to a participate in a clinical trial, the world’s first successful treatment addressing the underlying cause of central retinal vein occlusion, which Professor McAllister has pioneered at the Lions Eye Institute after extensive initial research.

A purpose-built laser was used to effectively create a bypass channel around the blockage at the back of Jennifer’s left eye. Three injections into her eye helped relieve the bleeding and swelling. Patients in the Lions Eye Institute clinical trial have seen incredible results from this ground-breaking treatment – of laser coupled with injections. They gained a lasting improvement in their vision.

Jennifer now has better vision in her left eye than in her right. She’s back using the computer for work, stargazing and driving to pick up her two grandsons from school.

Jennifer says, “Astrophotography is a recent passion of mine. After the surgery I managed to photograph the Southern Aurora, it was just terrific to be able to do that.”

“Of all your senses to lose, losing your eyesight impacts your lifestyle the most. I just feel very lucky that for my particular problem, the research was occurring at the Lions Eye Institute in Perth. Research is so important – you don’t know you need it, until you do. And without the dedication of the researchers and people making donations this work would not be possible” says Jennifer

The unique nature of the Lions Eye Institute is the close working relationship between our clinicians and researchers. In many cases, like Professor McAllister they fulfil both roles. This helps accelerate laboratory discoveries into new treatments, while research can be directly guided by patients’ real and urgent needs.

People with vision loss like Jennifer benefit the most from early intervention – before their eye damage is irreversible. Please consider giving today.

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