The Crystal Charity Ball Selects Retina Foundation to Receive $548,619 for Pediatric Vision Evaluation Center
Dallas, TX – (February 2012) – The Retina Foundation of the Southwest is a beneficiary of the 2012 Crystal Charity Ball and will receive $548,619 to acquire, renovate and equip a new Pediatric Vision Evaluation Center. Plans are underway for the Retina Foundation to move into a new state of the art permanent facility that will be specially designed to accomodate our research programs. The Foundation is especially grateful to The Crystal Charity Ball for supporting this capital project that will make a difference for so many children affected by vision disorders.
The Pediatric Vision Evaluation Center is a world leader in research into the causes, treatments, and cures for pediatric eye disease and infant nutrition to promote optimal visual development. The Center also provides vision testing for children affected at birth or during preschool years by eye disorders. The Center serves up to 2,000 children each year, including infants and children with special needs at no cost to their families. The new Center will have 2,847 sq. ft. of space. It will include eight evaluation rooms as well as a reception and workspace area.
The new Center is a remarkable opportunity for the Retina Foundation that has been advancing research to save sight for nearly 30 years. For example, pediatric eye research at the Retina Foundation has led to improved vision for infants born with cataracts.
"When we started our research on babies born with cataracts, results were pretty dismal--most ended up blind after surgery," said Dr. Eileen Birch, Director of the Pediatric Eye Research Laboratory.
"We thought that the reason infants were not able to see after surgery was because the cataract clouded vision during the first weeks of life. Our idea was that the developing visual areas of the brain need stimulation to develop, and that, if this critical period is missed, vision cannot develop later. Our research showed that surgery to clear the eye of the cataract by 6 weeks of age could lead to a dramatically different result."
As a result of this research at the Retina Foundation, surgery for congenital cataracts is now routinely performed before 6 weeks of age. This progress in research made it possible for all three boys of the Hawes family who were born with congenital cataracts to receive corrective surgery as early as 5 to 6 weeks to remove the cataracts. Now, all three boys have remarkable vision with their lenses and the oldest son, Aaron, has reached a milestone by becoming the first in his mother's family to drive a car.
Unfortunately, this advancement in medical treatment was not available for their mother, Cynthia Hawes, who is unable to drive to this day. However, Cynthia is grateful for research that has allowed her children to escape the challenges of vision loss. "What the Retina Foundation represents absolutely means a lot to me," said Cynthia Hawes. "It's that progress is still being made. You're still working on it. You haven't forgotten us."