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Las Vegas Teen's Vision Restored Thanks To Donated Eye Surgery

A generous doctor and anonymous donors brightened the spirits — and the vision — of a Las Vegas teenager who is recovering from eyesight-saving surgery.

High school sophomore Christian suffered from keratoconus, a misshaped cornea that can lead to blindness. 

Julie Cruz is the 10th grade advisor for Core Academy, a nonprofit that provides support to 200 underprivileged Southern Nevada young people and their families. She noticed that Christian, a Core Academy client, had been struggling with his vision. She quickly realized the problem was something beyond just needing glasses.

"We started to look at where we could take him and we realized that it was going to be more than just a regular optometrist appointment and we found Dr. Abrams," she said. 

Dr. Jack Abrams discovered how serious the problem really was.

“When he presented to our office, he was legally blind in both eyes,” he said.

Abrams said glasses wouldn't have helped Christian. He said his vision was so bad that even with corrective lenses he would have still been legally blind in one eye. 

Abrams donated his time to perform surgery on each eye to correct Christian’s vision, and anonymous benefactors picked up the other costs associated with the operations. The procedure typically costs about $5,000.

But before he had the surgery, Christian did his own research, Abrams said.

“What’s amazing is that after we diagnosed him... he came back for a final visit before surgery and he was so well studied on this, on the subject of keratoconus, he asked the right questions," Abrams said, "We answered those and he opted to go forward with surgery.”

Abrams said he expects Christian’s vision to be vastly improved and could be corrected further with glasses or contacts.

Lindsay Harper is the executive director for Core Academy. She said this isn't the first time the academy has stepped in to help a child in need of medical care. The philosophy of the academy is to child in anyway he or she needs.

“We have a student who is absolutely brilliant and he wants to give back to his community but he was going blind and so we had to bridge that gap,” she said.

Dr. Jack Abrams, Las Vegas eye surgeon; Lindsay Harper, Core Academy executive director; Julie Cruz, Core Academy 10th grade adviser

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With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.