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Cornea Transplant Helps College Student Pursue Dream - Angelica's Story

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Angelica Barrios

Luckily for Angelica Barrios, a 22-year old student at City College in New York City, she narrowly escaped blindness and is now able to pursue her dreams, thanks to a successful cornea transplant and donor tissue provided by The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration. 

Three years ago, when Angelica was 19, she unintentionally scratched her cornea (the clear, outer covering of the eye) while removing her contact lens. At first, she had no idea why she felt such sharp pain and burning in her eye; but assumed it would get better on its own. The next morning she could barely see out of her left eye. 

On her way to the hospital, she was completely photophobic, a condition in which the eye has an intolerance to light and involuntarily shuts, and her left eye was throbbing with pain. She was prescribed an antibiotic to treat the infection caused by the scratch, which fortunately helped with the pain, but over time, scar tissue caused permanent damage to her cornea.

At the time her eye problem began, Angelica was well underway as a Pre-Med student at City College of New York.  But her deteriorating eyesight was impacting her daily tasks. She found herself unable to cope with the large volume of required reading. To take exams, she needed to sit in a specially-lit room with side lamps to light the page instead of overhead lights which hurt her eyes.  Travelling to school on the subway became impossible because the underground lighting was too dark and she couldn’t read the numbers on approaching trains.

As one would expect, Angelica became overwhelmed and discouraged and in fear of losing her dreams to blindness.  Her dad also felt helpless that there was nothing to be done for his daughter, until finally they met with George Florakis, M.D., an ophthalmologist and corneal surgeon who recommended a cornea transplant. 

In October of 2011, Dr. Florakis successfully performed the sight-restoring surgery with donor eye tissue provided by The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration.  After two years of living with deteriorating eyesight, the cornea transplant brought back not only Angelica’s ability to see, but her spirit and confidence to continue with school. 

Angelica knows that this could only have happened because someone had agreed to donate their eyes. She is grateful to have the chance to pursue her dreams once again, is thankful to her donor for leaving her the beautiful gift of sight, and encourages everyone to sign up in the Donate Life Registry.

Cornea Transplant Helps College Student Pursue Dream - Angelica's Story comes to us from The Eye-Bank for Sight Restoration in New York, NY.