Patient: Henry Bisgaier
Sight Restored: 2003
Henry Bisgaier says his eye problems began early. “By the time I was seven, my parents became aware that I was near-sighted and had misshapen corneas,” says Mr. Bisgaier, who is 75. “This was before contact lenses were available. For me, glasses were of almost no value.”
Just before starting law school, he was fitted for contact lenses that improved his vision. “But they were never comfortable,” he notes. “I couldn’t tolerate them for more than six or seven hours a day.”
Despite this, Mr. Bisgaier, a Brooklyn native, succeeded in practicing corporate law in New York and became a partner at his firm. However, his eyes never stopped being a worry and a concern. “I reached the point where I could only wear each contact lens for three hours a day - tops,” he recalls. “Moreover, my ophthalmologist told me that the lenses were damaging my corneas. Around this time, I heard the word ‘keratoconus’ for the first time.”
Mr. Bisgaier actually has keratoglobus, a much rarer and more serious condition characterized by progressive thinning of the corneas. In addition to his worry about the ongoing damage, Mr. Bisgaier became concerned that he might miss or misread something that could cause harm to a client.
Because of these factors, Mr. Bisgaier retired early, at age 52, and relocated his family to Charlottesville, Virginia, where he kept searching for treatment. “I had always been told I wasn’t a candidate for cornea transplantation because my corneas were too thin,” he says. “Then I found someone who took my contact lenses and tried to adapt them, which provided some help, but eventually the same irritation problems resurfaced.”
Things began looking up in 2003, when an ophthalmologist told him about Boston Foundation for Sight (BFS). Mr. Bisgaier soon completed BostonSight® PROSE treatment. “It was incredible,” says Mr. Bisgaier. “The improvement in my vision was dramatic, and the PROSE devices are so comfortable, I can wear them the entire day.”
Mr. Bisgaier has returned regularly to BFS for follow up care. “I’ve seen some really inspiring things when I’m there,” he says. “I recall a woman who, thanks to receiving PROSE treatment, was able to see her children for the first time. You don’t forget things like that.”
In November 2012, Mr. Bisgaier was examined by Karen Carrasquillo, OD, PhD, who diagnosed residual astigmatism. “If you don’t search for this, it could easily be missed, and that would be a disservice to the patient,” Dr. Carrasquillo explains. “As a result, I changed the optics in one of Mr. Bisgaier’s devices, which gave his vision a boost.” He arrived with distance vision of 20/50 and 20/70 and left with improvements in both eyes, to 20/40.
“She was terrific,” says Mr. Bisgaier. “Dr. Carrasquillo answered every question and put in all the time I needed. As a result, she made changes that improved my vision. Every little bit helps.”
He is philosophical about the impact that poor vision has had on his life. “My mother pushed me and wouldn’t let me use it as an excuse,” he says. “Once I was practicing law, I think I focused more than most people do.”
Mr. Bisgaier has few regrets about the way things evolved. “I’m fortunate I could retire early, but life would be miserable without my PROSE devices,” he says. “PROSE treatment has been a miracle.”
Mr. Bisgaier has been a regular, and generous, donor since his initial contact with BFS. “I do this not only because of what was done for me,” he says, “but also because of the incredible service that BFS provides to so many.
“From the beginning, BFS made a tremendous impact on me, especially because they were committed to helping those who could not afford PROSE treatment.”