Early in his life, Robert and his family learned how to cope with his vision challenges. They began with a serious bout of diphtheria that caused severe retinal scarring and blindness. From birth to age 1, he was blind in his left and right eyes. His mother’s determination and the application of a homeopathic treatment helped improve his overall sight in both eyes by age 3. When it was time for him to learn to read, Robert was fitted with special glasses. As a very young man, Robert knew he would never have perfect vision. What he did not know was just how much his vision would continue to affect his life.
Robert enlisted in the Navy and served in Korea. When his eyesight again began to deteriorate, however, he was sent to a Boston naval hospital, where his condition stumped the physicians. Finally, Robert had to accept an honorable medical discharge from the Navy and return to civilian life.
Robert was later diagnosed with severe cataracts and underwent surgery. The procedure, however, only helped to clear up the darkness. His vision grew no clearer and, in fact, soon began to further deteriorate. Robert was forced to stop driving and start depending more and more on others. To read, he had to wear a special assistive device with a 10 power magnification and hold books at least six inches away to read large print. Robert was incredibly frustrated.
Then a friend recommended Robert go to Dr. Gregory Smith, an internationally recognized leader in eye surgery. Under Dr. Smith’s care, Robert received cornea transplants in 2007 and 2008. After his second cornea transplant, Robert’s vision was 20/40, more than clear enough to get him back behind the wheel and back on the road to independence.
“Dr. Smith offers great services; he constantly called me to ensure things were progressing well,” Robert said. “I am also very grateful to my donors, who are truly heroes to me. It is only because of their generosity and their families' thoughtfulness that I can enjoy life in a way that I could not have imagined before my cornea transplants. I have three children, five grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren, and I have the gift of sight to enjoy them like I never expected.”
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