Betty has struggled all her life with glaucoma, an eye disease that can lead to blindness. At age 10, she lost one eye to infection after glaucoma surgery, and as an adult was nearly blind in the other.
"It had gotten to the point where I was hurting myself, running into furniture and walls," she says. "I was afraid."
Betty turned to the vision experts at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, who replaced her damaged cornea with an artificial one through a process called keratoprosthesis – just one of many advanced visual procedures offered at Ohio State.
"Even though I had a visual impairment, I never saw myself as handicapped."
Betty and her nine siblings grew up on a farm in New Lexington, Ohio.
"My family never treated me like I had a handicap," says Betty, who was born with glaucoma in both eyes.
Betty's parents knew early on that she had severe eye problems. Betty was barely able to open her eyes each morning, because mucus from an infection glued them shut. At age 10, Betty's diseased right eye was replaced with a prosthetic one.
"I was profoundly vision impaired, but I never let it stop me."
Betty excelled in school, learning to read by following the hand gestures of her teacher who wrote large words on the blackboard.
Betty graduated from college with honors, then worked for 25 years at a children's services agency. She left the job she loved in 1995 because her vision became too poor.
"The magnification on my computer was set to 250 percent, and I still had to press my face up against the screen to see it."
SIGHT FOR SORE EYES
"I was fortunate to have excellent care from the very beginning."
Throughout her life, Betty regularly traveled to Columbus for expert eye care.
Dr. Paul Weber of Ohio State's Havener Eye Institute treated Betty for glaucoma. But as her vision naturally weakened, he referred her to Dr. Thomas Mauger, who chairs Ohio State's Department of Ophthalmology and specializes in corneal transplantation.
The cornea is the clear front covering of the eye. It focuses light through the pupil, the black center opening of the iris. The corneal tissue is usually clear. If it becomes cloudy, it can be replaced through surgery.
"I made the decision that I wanted to do the surgery at Ohio State," says Betty. "I had little vision left to lose."
Betty's surgery was an immediate success.
"I could see," says Betty. "Dr. Mauger was smiling from ear to ear."
Today, Betty shops by herself at the grocery store, enjoys her friends' facial expressions and reads without difficulty.
"I've been tremendously blessed with the best doctors in the nation."