Blind World

Crystal Clear.

November 19, 2004. (Boston).

There are over 100,000 people in the United States who suffer from cornea-related blindness. For one young blind boy, a new medical miracle is a site for sore eyes. 7's Randy Price explains how for the first time he's seeing "Crystal Clear."

Like most teenagers, 16-year-old George Bedrin goes to school, has homework, loves sports and dreams of a driver's license. The only difference in this case: George is blind.

George Bedrin, Legally blind:

"Ever since I was 4-years-old I haven't been able to see."

For most of his life, George has lived in a dark and blurry world because of a corneal eye disease called keratoconus. He wears special glasses but they only help him see about a foot away.

George Bedrin, Legally blind:

"I just assumed this is what it's going to be like for the rest of my life."

A lifetime of always relying on others.

George Bedrin, Legally blind:

"I was just planning on like moving to some city and getting help from other people or getting rides from buses and stuff." But that's about to change. Now, for the first time in his life, George's vision is becoming crystal clear.

George Bedrin, Legally blind:

"It's amazing. Wow!"

His biggest discovery is his own reflection.

George Bedrin, Legally blind:

"I have poofy hair and I am a lot skinner than I thought I was."

This medical miracle didn't require sophisticated surgery. In fact, George is able to see thanks to a pair of specially designed lenses.

Perry Rosenthal, M.D., Founder, Boston Foundation for Sight:

"Our success rate is over 90%."

It took Harvard Professor Dr. Perry Rosenthal over 15 years to develop the "Boston Scleral Lens". His non-profit "The Boston Foundation for Sight" is the only place for custom prescriptions.

Perry Rosenthal, M.D., Founder, Boston Foundation for Sight:

"We have treated about 600 patients."

Many who suffer from cornea disease are not only unable to see, but also each blink and the dimmest of light can cause excruciating pain.

Perry Rosenthal, M.D., Founder, Boston Foundation for Sight:

"These are some of the most tortured victims of blinding eye diseases. In some ways, George is fortunate, he's only blind."

The seeing success doesn't end with George.

Jim Bedrin, Patient:

"When it worked, I was so surprised and I asked him about what did it feel like, what did it look like and then I was also kind of jealous because he was getting all this stuff and I wasn't."

Now, it's his younger brother Jimmy's turn. He just got his own pair and is overwhelmed...

Jim Bedrin, Patient:

"Especially when you go outside you see the grass and the roads seem different. I can read the signs from across and see things far off. Things are different and amazing."

The reason they work is that unlike typical contacts, these lenses are hard and the size of a quarter. They sit on white part of the eye called the "scalera". Special eye drops surround the damaged cornea, smoothing out imperfections, and improving optical distortions.

Perry Rosenthal, M.D., Founder, Boston Foundation for Sight:

"It's designed to create a liquid bandage."

Now, as George looks into his future he sees his life possibilities more clearly.

George Bedrin, Legally blind:

"It's d

efinitely a miracle." The lenses cost over $7,500 dollars and alarmingly most insurance companies won't cover them because they are considered contact lenses. The Bedrin boys are still waiting to see if theirs are covered.

For more information:

Perry Rosenthal, M.D.
The Boston Foundation For Sight
464 Hillside Ave., Suite 205
Needham, MA 02494

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