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The Glaucoma Foundation's Annual Awards Gala: Get Your Eyes Examined And Enjoy The View

Honoree H.E. Ambassador Francis M. Deng, Board Member Barbara W. Hearst and TGF Chairman Dr. Gregory K. Harmon. (Photo: Eileen Casey)

The Glaucoma Foundation (TGF) held its annual gala at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park on Thursday, June 9th. Amid the honorees, medical professionals, researchers, board members, guests and the scenic backdrop of the lovely Boathouse in Central Park, one focus was very clear - get your eyes examined so you too can always enjoy healthy eye vision and the view too!

Honoree Ursula Schlotzer-Schrehardt, PhD. (Photo: Eileen Casey)

Dr. Gregory Harmon, Chairman of the Board, Dr. Robert Ritch, Founder of TGF, and Scott Christensen, President, along with committed Board of Directors members, including, but certainly not limited to, Barbara W. Hearst, Gerald Kaiser, Esq., Ilene Giaquinta, Dr. Jeffrey Liebmann and others of this not-for-profit organization have dedicated their efforts to raise necessary funds for vital research and public educational programs in the hopes of one day eradicating blindness through glaucoma.

"Glaucoma is often called the 'sneak thief of sight' because it usually strikes without obvious symptoms and is the nation's leading cause of preventable blindness" according to the Foundation's mission statement. Speaking with Scott Christensen, he relayed some rather sobering facts, "Glaucoma affects 67 million people throughout the world, and more than three million in the United States alone, but what is truly disturbing is that approximately 50 percent of those affected are not even aware that they have glaucoma, and can lose up to 30 percent of their sight before treatment. We hope to cure one form of glaucoma at a time."

Following a lavish cocktail hour with music provided by the Peter Duchin Orchestra, and a delicious and sumptuous dinner, the first honoree of the evening, Ursula Schlotzer-Schrehardt, PhD received the Dr. Robert Ritch Award for Excellence and Innovation in Glaucoma from Dr. Ritch himself. She was recognized for her research in exfoliation syndrome, a common disorder. Her research has contributed "to the documentation of exfoliation syndrome as a new systemic process" affecting the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Dr. Schlotzer-Schrehardt is an Associate Professor and Senior Scientist at the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Erlangen-Numberg in Germany.

Cathy Hart and Christopher Hart. (Photo: Eileen Casey)

Cathy and Christopher Hart, children of the legendary Kitty Carlisle Hart, presented H.E. Ambassador Francis C. Deng, the second honoree of the evening, with The Kitty Carlisle Hart Award of Merit for Lifetime Achievement. A writer, scholar, diplomat and South Sudan's first ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Deng was also a Wilhelm Fellow at the Center for International Studies at MIT and a Research Professor of International Politics, Law and Society at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Mr. Deng has been afflicted with glaucoma since high school, and gave a moving testimonial about living with glaucoma and the wonderful medical treatment he has received over many years. Convinced he would eventually become completely blind, he decided "I must make myself useful to society and that I was racing with time. I can say that I have my own blessings in my response to the challenges of glaucoma, and the fact that I can still see today."

So remember to have your eyes examined yearly by an ophthalmologist or optometrist, and insist on a comprehensive exam that should include dilation (pupil enlargement with eye drops), intraocular (fluid level) pressure measurements and optic nerve evaluation so that you may always enjoy the view.

For more information contact The Glaucoma Foundation at 212-285-0080, or visit www.glaucomafoundation.org.

Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.


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