“We give all the credit in the world to the doctors at UIC. We would never have dreamed that my father could one day see well enough to shoot baskets with his grandson.” Read more
Dr. Daniel Kiernan
Long Island, New York
Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary –Retina Fellow Alum
“The education I received was priceless, but I hope that my annual donation can continue to help resident and fellow education and support patients who don’t have the necessary means for treatment elsewhere.” Read more
Lawrence J. Konn
Rolling Meadows, Illinois
“I give to the Illinois Eye Fund because the human eye is a fire hose to the brain. It is reduced to a straw in people with reduced vision like myself. Blind and visually impaired people without plenty of human support are severely disabled in today’s society, and even more so as they age. The eye is complex but tremendous progress is being done especially after scientists and researchers set their minds to it.”
–In honor of his mother
“My mother had years of community service. As I get older I realize that it’s good to give back to communities and services that help others. A little support from everyone can make a difference.” Read more
James T. Reid
“The main reason I give is to help support the departments of the institutions that are helping to keep me alive and active.” Read more
Dr. Veeral Sheth
Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary –Residency Alumni
“The best and brightest go to train at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, and the best ophthalmologists come out of UIC. A world-class institution like this needs support from its alumni.” Read more
Why I Give
Chuck Barsky donates on behalf of his father, Albert
Although he was just a teen at the time, Chuck Barsky vividly remembers his father Albert’s years of struggling with failing eyesight. A serious flare-up the day after his brother’s wedding caused Albert to lose most of his eyesight for the second time within 10 years. A trip to the local eye doctor in the Chicago suburbs confirmed that his case was extremely serious, and required advanced attention. Albert was referred to the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at UIC.
“We consider ourselves fortunate to have been close to UIC, one of the leading eye institutes,” notes Chuck.
Albert met with Jacob Wilensky, MD, Professor of Ophthalmology. Dr. Wilensky diagnosed Albert with acute glaucoma. After 25 years and 20+ surgeries, including cornea transplants, Albert has regained some of his sight. According to Chuck, he can see roughly 25% out of one eye and has pinpoint vision in the other.
“We give all the credit in the world to the doctors at UIC,” says Chuck. “We would never have dreamed that my father could one day see well enough to shoot baskets with his grandson.”
Today, Albert regularly sees Dr. Wilensky and Joel Sugar, MD, Professor of Ophthalmology and Interim Head of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. Albert typically returns to UIC for treatment every three to six months.
Chuck is grateful to the department’s doctors for partially recovering his father’s eyesight, and feels that it is important to give back. “We owe so much to them,” he notes.
Chuck earmarks his donation (which is matched by his employer, Discover Financial Services) for the Jacob Wilensky, MD, Endowed Glaucoma Research Fund, which is used for glaucoma research and the Department’s teaching program.
“We hope that our donation can help someone else,” says Chuck.
To learn about ways that you can give, click here or call (312) 996-6591.
The long road of training to be a vitreoretinal surgeon successfully culminated when I completed my fellowship at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, UIC Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science.
Through the guidance of world class mentors, including Drs. William Mieler, Jennifer Lim, Norman and Michael Blair, Yannek Leiderman and my co-fellow-now-faculty-member Felix Chau, I was able to understand the pathogenesis and treatment of medical retinal disorders and hone the fine skills necessary for retinal surgery.
The generosity of the Department in accepting patients with little or no insurance with often times rare, blinding conditions caused by trauma and disease allowed me to experience and manage the worst of the worst and develop the confidence of my teachers. The education I received was priceless, but I hope that my annual donation can continue to help resident and fellow education and support patients who don’t have the necessary means for treatment elsewhere.
I encourage my fellow U of I alumni to consider giving back to a Department that has helped educate the next generation of top notch eye doctors and heal the sight of so many.
Jim Rathmann donates in memory of his mother, Elsie
Jim Rathmann believes that giving back is important. In fact, he is following the example of his role model mother Elsie, who was a patient of Jacob Wilensky, MD, Professor of Ophthalmology (pictured at right). Mr. Rathmann donates annually to the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences in tribute to his mother’s memory.
“In 1990 my mother developed serious glaucoma issues,” recalls Mr. Rathmann. As her condition worsened, Elsie’s local doctors in suburban Skokie recommended that she seek the expertise of UIC.
“My mother was a patient of Dr. Wilensky’s for a number of years,” says Mr. Rathmann. “We had such good treatment, and pretty good success.” He also raves about the staff. “The staff was so nice to my mother, and treated her so well.”
While under Dr. Wilensky’s care Elsie participated in a glaucoma study, hoping to help in the research of this debilitating eye disease. Over the years her condition deteriorated, and she lost one of her eyes. When Elsie passed in 1998, she donated her remaining eye to research.
“She wanted to help others with glaucoma,” notes Mr. Rathmann. Today, he continues his mother’s spirit of giving. “My mother had years of community service,” says Mr. Rathmann. “As I get older I realize that it’s good to give back to communities and services that help others.”
Mr. Rathmann makes a modest contribution in memory of his mother every year, with the donation earmarked for Dr. Wilensky “to recognize his years of dedicated service.” Mr. Rathmann notes that he has followed the work of Dr. Wilensky and has seen the great expansion that’s taken place at UIC.
“A little support from everyone can make a difference,” says Mr. Rathmann.
James T. Reid donates in appreciation of stellar patient care
James T. Reid is a dedicated patient of William Mieler, MD, Director of the Ocular Oncology Clinic in Retina Service (pictured at right). In fact, he has followed him from one institution to another. But first Mr. Reid did his homework.
Dr. Mieler diagnosed Mr. Reid with epiretinal membrane six years ago while he was a physician at the University of Chicago. But as a new patient, Mr. Reid decided to seek a second opinion. He was planning a trip to Florida and his sister happened to sit on the board of the University of Miami’s esteemed Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. While in Florida, Mr. Reid met with a doctor at the Institute and told him that he was seeing Dr. Mieler back in Chicago.
“He said, ‘You’ve got the best guy,’” recalls Mr. Reid.
Confidently moving forward with his treatment, Dr. Mieler operated on Mr. Reid’s right eye at the University of Chicago. When Dr. Mieler relocated to UIC, Mr. Reid followed and underwent surgery on his left eye. Mr. Reid explains that the major cause of epiretinal membrane is diabetes. He adds that the condition creates a deflection in the eyesight, resulting in distorted wavy lines when trying to read.
Today Mr. Reid is still a patient of Dr. Mieler. He says that although his left eye is in good shape, his right eye still has deflection and swelling in the retina. He comes to UIC for regular treatments, noting that “everyone there is terrific.” He also makes it a point to donate.
“The main reason I give is to help support the departments of the institutions that are helping to keep me alive and active,” says Mr. Reid.
He explains that he gives in honor of Dr. Mieler to help out where needed in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, whether it’s for education or cutting-edge medical devices.
“I think Dr. Mieler is very dedicated, and an exceptional talent,” adds Mr. Reid.
Veeral S. Sheth, MD, has good memories of his time spent at UIC. He attended undergraduate and medical school here (where he happened to meet his wife, Monica). And in 2005 he returned to do his residency at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary (IEEI), serving as chief resident in 2008. Today, Dr. Sheth is a successful doctor who specializes in diseases of the retina and oversees Retina Services for four hospitals in the Chicago-area NorthShore University HealthSystem. Yet despite his busy career, Dr. Sheth takes time to donate to UIC’s Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.
“UIC is a place where I spent a lot of time,” recalls Dr. Sheth, “a total of 10 years.”
Dr. Sheth notes that he had a number of important mentors while training at the IEEI. He points to Michael Shapiro, MD, as the doctor who steered his career in the direction of retinal surgery. And he admires Joel Sugar, MD, who he trained with surgically, as a pioneer in his field who has a rich 30-year history with the IEEI. But Dimitri Azar, MD, MBA, former Head of the Department of Ophthalmology and now Dean of UIC’s College of Medicine, was a real game changer for Dr. Sheth.
“When Dimitri Azar came to UIC he brought an incredible energy,” recalls Dr. Sheth. “His drive and creativity were inspirational for me. UIC was back on the map and we needed to capitalize on that movement and energy. It was a snowball effect that I wanted to contribute to.”
One of the ways that Dr. Sheth continues to contribute to UIC’s successes is by donating. He notes that giving to a state institution is particularly important, as they often have a lack of donors.
“As far as institutions go, UIC is nationally recognized,” says Dr. Sheth. “The best and brightest go to train at the IEEI, and the best ophthalmologists come out of UIC.”
Dr. Sheth notes that his donations are earmarked for the Joel Sugar MD Endowed Professorship, which funds research and educational activities within the visual sciences.
“A world-class institution like this needs support from its alumni,” notes Dr. Sheth.
Click here to learn about ways that you can give or call 312-996-6591.