Tyler, a sophomore in High School and the youngest of four siblings, has always been a gifted young man. Born with bilateral congenital cataracts, he has never let his vision stand in the way of pursuing his passions.
Exceptionally musically inclined, Tyler can play the piano by ear and is always involved with his school’s musicals. Not even the pandemic could stop them from putting on a show, as they recently rehearsed, edited and produced a musical entirely over zoom.
Upon having his bilateral cataracts removed as an infant, everything went well with his right eye for over a decade, while scar tissue developed in the left. After years of his doctors removing the scar tissue in his left eye, Tyler developed glaucoma in the right eye. “I remember the moment I realized I had completely lost vision in my right eye,” Tyler recalls. I closed my left eye and held my hand in front of my right eye. All I could see was darkness.” In the spring of 2019, Tyler’s doctor determined the only hope or possibility of saving his sight would be through a cornea transplant.
While the probability of saving his right eye was low, Tyler and his family never lost hope. “We pray every single night,” his mom, Bridget, explains. “The brain is a really powerful thing; if you lose hope, there’s no chance. If you keep hope, you can overcome even the most difficult of obstacles.”
After more complications and surgeries with his left eye, Tyler finally received a cornea transplant in his right eye in September of 2020. Christopher Rapuano, MD, Chief of Wills Eye Cornea Service and Retina Specialist Allen Ho, MD performed the surgery in the height of the pandemic. It was the first time Tyler could see out of his right eye since February of 2019.
“For the longest time all I could see when I opened my eyes was black or the brightest of lights. Right after my cornea transplant surgery, I opened my eyes, and I could finally see my hand in front of my face. I remember being able to see the wall and the trimming along it. That was huge,” Tyler recalls.
“We could not be more pleased with the outcome of Tyler’s surgery,” Dr. Rapuano happily says. Slowly but surely Tyler’s vision is improving. “My vision is getting sharper,” Tyler says. “I opened my eyes in the living room and I could make out the shapes of my furniture. Little by little it’s coming back!”
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