The STATE OF THE FOUNDATION
The Samuel and Barbara Masket Foundation is a 501 C3 non-profit charitable trust. Among its missions, it supports clinical research at Advanced Vision Care. Additionally, patients unable to afford participation in certain studies may receive grants-in-aid from the Foundation. An example is the US FDA Trial for the Humanoptics Artificial Iris. Samuel Masket/Advanced Vision Care is one of just 12 sites in the US approved to implant the artificial iris.
To be clear, receiving an Artificial Iris is a life-changing event for the patient, as loss of all, or part of the iris due to injury or disease can have devastating effects on vision, appearance, and quality of life. An example is that of a teenage boy who sustained a severe injury to his Right Eye when hit by a skateboard a few years earlier. His eye was salvaged by dramatic emergency surgery, but all of the iris and the lens were lost as can be noted in the photo.
Eventually, the patient was referred as a candidate for the FDA trial for the Artificial Iris. Surgery was fully successful with a return to 20/20 vision, elimination of glare, and major improvement in appearance as noted below.
However, and unusual for FDA approved trials, the manufacturer does not supply the device. Rather, in this case, the patient must pay for it, and the artificial iris alone costs in excess of $5000! Moreover, as the iris device is investigational, health insurance does not cover any of its cost.
The Foundation began fundraising activities in May 2015 and has recently donated the cost of the artificial iris for two patients. The first, Gabby, a recent high school graduate, has had problems with an unsightly eye since shortly after birth. We are ecstatic at the early results of her surgery and she is immeasurably grateful. Preoperative and postoperative photographs can be seen below, as well as her recent letter to us describing her experience and feelings.
I’m not sure how to put into words all the things I feel in my heart right now. This has been such a long journey for me. For as long as I can remember I have hoped for the day that I could look in the mirror and feel good about the way I look. I was born with congenital cataracts in my right eye, and at just two weeks old, I had my first surgery to remove the lens. Over the years I have had at least 20 different surgeries. These surgeries were for many different challenges I faced with this eye, such as glaucoma, lens replacement, muscle correction and scar tissue removal. Through this process, I had damage occur to my iris and cornea, as well as scar tissue that covered my lens. This left me with almost no sight and a very noticeable discoloration to my right eye as well as a disfigured iris.
Since the time I was in elementary school I have always had self-esteem issues in connection with my eyes. Over the years I have endured name-calling from fellow students that has made me feel bad about myself. I was once even told I looked possessed, because of the way my iris looked. I couldn’t go anywhere without being asked about my eye. I remember telling my Mom once that I just wanted to be a regular kid who can go into a restaurant or store and not be asked about my appearance by a stranger. I had to try very hard to feel pretty, but I would put on a smile, and have a positive outlook and try not to let other people get to me. Deep down I wished there was some way I could have the opportunity to have eyes that looked normal.
Incredibly, this miracle came true for me last March! With the help of the Samuel and Barbara Masket Foundation, Dr. Samuel Masket and Dr. Nicole Fram performed surgery on my eye and gave me a new iris! It is an indescribable feeling to look in the mirror and see two beautiful eyes staring back at me. The iris in my right eye is a perfect match for the one in my left eye. I was also fortunate enough to have the scar tissue removed and a new lens and cornea put in at the same time. My eyes look amazing now.
This August I will start a new chapter in my life. I have graduated from High School and will be heading off to college. This I will do with a new found confidence and joy! I have decided to major in Pre-Med, thanks to the love and inspiration I received from my wonderful doctors, most notably Dr. Masket and Dr. Fram. I don’t know how I will ever be able to thank them for giving me this new hope for my life, but I expect to someday be able to “pay it forward”. I would also like to give a heartfelt thank you to the Barbara Masket and The Masket Foundation for helping make this dream I have carried around my entire life come true.
The Foundation is very proud that we have been able to supply the device and provide the surgery for those two needy patients. We will continue to do so as additional donated funds become available.
We are extremely pleased that the Foundation is up and running and we remain eternally thankful to our donors.