Meet Our Ambassador
Hello, my name is Brandon and I will be talking about a charity that is very close to me and my family.
Brandan’s Eye Research Fund is a volunteer organization that supports research into potentially blinding vision disorders at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and eye research centres around the world. The purpose of the Foundation is to help all eye research centres worldwide to reach the international goal of eliminating blindness by the year 2020. Blindness is second only to cancer as the most serious concern among Canadians. The Department of Ophthalmology and Vision Sciences at the Hospital for Sick Children treats over 20 000 children per year. It is one of the largest clinics in the world with doctors providing ongoing care and surgical services for pediatric patients and scientists dedicated to research and education throughout Canada and the world. This charity works hard to help this very busy clinic.
The funds raised have been invested to support of over 60 eye research projects. The Foundation has played a key part in supporting specific research activities for doctors who provide the frontline treatment and clinic care. They are now doing specific fundraising campaigns and choosing one project at a time to support.
This year, I attended and volunteered at the Brandan’s Eye Research Gala On November 9th. The organization gave a cheque for 2 million dollars to SickKids Hospital. The money went to the eye clinic and also went to researching ways to prevent and to help cure eye diseases. At the gala a new club was introduced – the “Vision Club”. This was formed to help support research for potentially blinding vision disorders at centres worldwide. It is a way to donate monthly to the charity and is a way of guaranteeing ongoing support for the organization.
At the beginning of my presentation I said that this charity was close to me and my family. This is because I was born with congenital glaucoma. This means that I had it when I was born, but my parents did not know it. When I was three months old, my parents noticed that one of my pupils was blurry. My parents took me to my pediatrician who immediately knew something was wrong. He sent us to see an ophthalmologist in his building who thought I had glaucoma, but wanted a specialist to confirm this. I was sent to SickKids Hospital for diagnosis and treatment. The next day I was seen by the Dr. at SickKids Hospital and he immediately told my parents that I had congenital glaucoma – which occurs in about one in 10 000 babies. Glaucoma is damage to your optic nerve at the point where it leaves your eye. This type of damage affects your sight and it is usually caused by raised pressure in your eye. This was what I had – the pressure in my left eye was high and was causing damage to the optic nerve.
The Dr. and the staff at Sick Kids went through the treatment plan – surgery – the risks and the support available. A few days later, I returned to SickKids Hospital for a surgery known as a goniotomy which would improve the drainage in my eye and would lower the pressure. They hoped that because I was so young the damage done to my optic nerves could be repaired. The Dr. told my parents that they would need to monitor me carefully to make sure that the goniotomy was successful and he told my parents to patch my right eye regularly to avoid developing a lazy eye. They wanted to make sure that my left eye worked and that even though it was different and had surgery on it, it would work properly.
I am very lucky and I responded well to the surgery. Since I was three months old, my pressures have remained stable and in the normal range and the nerve damage did repair itself. My right eye has also remained healthy. I continue to go to SickKids for regular checkups, about twice a year, to ensure that my condition stays stable. When I go to the Hospital they check my pressures, they check my vision and they take pictures of my optic nerves in order to carefully check my progress.
My family and I understand how important organizations like Brandan’s Eye Research Foundation is because they provide a voice for kids with vision disorders and they help support much needed research. I am a volunteer for Brandan’s Eye Research in order to help other kids like me. This year I am the Brandan’s Eye Research Ambassador and hope to bring awareness of the importance of helping children with eye disorders and to help eliminate eye diseases.
Brandan’s Eye Research motto is “seeing is believing” and I really believe that this is true.