March 21, 2012

Earl Butler: A Patient Study in Success

Earl Butler: A Patient Study in Success A teenager’s sight is saved at UIC

Dr. Thasarat Vajaranant and patient, Earl Butler

A teenager’s sight is saved at UIC

In 2007, Earl Butler was a typical Chicago teenager in high school. He began experiencing vision problems and got a new pair of glasses, thinking that his prescription just needed to be updated. But his eyesight kept getting worse. According to Earl, one day he started seeing blue lights. When he returned to the optometrist it was recommended that he go see an ophthalmologist.

Earl came to UIC’s Eye and Ear Infirmary and saw Dr. Thasarat S. Vajaranant, Director of Glaucoma Service. Besides finding advanced glaucoma with extremely high pressure in both of his eyes, Dr. Vajaranant discovered that Earl had entirely lost vision in his right eye. She also found that Earl suffered from osteogenesis imperfecta, a congenital disease that causes extremely fragile bones and results in imperfect bone formation.

Dr. Vajaranant’s first course of action was to operate on Earl’s left eye in order to save his vision. According to Dr. Vajaranant, the eye was in good shape and Earl did not need any medications. However, his right eye did require a couple of surgeries, first to decrease pressure in the eye and alleviate drainage problems. The second surgery was performed by Dr. Nathalie Azar, Director of UIC’s Pediatric Ophthalmology and Adult Strabismus Service, who performed a corrective muscle procedure in order to align Earl’s eyes. Both surgeries were successful and Earl’s vision is stable.

“Complex cases need a team approach,” notes Dr. Vajaranant.

Since his first visit to UIC, Earl has earned a chemistry scholarship and gone on to study at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He hopes to become a medical research scientist.

“I know I want to help people with glaucoma and eye diseases,” says Earl.

Earl sees Dr. Vajaranant for follow up every three to four months, and they are visits that he looks forward to.

“I developed a personal relationship with the doctors and staff at UIC,” says Earl.

Adds Dr. Vajaranant, “Earl has fought to save his sight. And he is a fighter in life.”

To learn more about the Glaucoma Service at the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary, click here.

by Margaret Doyle