Henry Cruz knows all too well about the devastating consequences of diabetes. As the youngest of 12 children, he has seen eight of his siblings pass away since 1982 due to complications from diabetes. The disease has decimated his family.
Henry’s own struggle with diabetes commenced when he lost his sight in 1995 after being diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. He was only one month away from graduating from college. "I was not prepared for what had come on," he said. "Every day I stepped out the door, I risked my life because I would almost get hit by a car."
Miraculously, though, Henry was able to regain the vision in his left eye after a surgical procedure in 1996. "The day I got my eyesight back was probably one of the most amazing days of my life," he said.
However, Henry’s battle with diabetes was far from over. In 2008, when his vision started to fail again, he was diagnosed with cataracts. Henry had surgery, but almost a year later, his vision started to deteriorate once more. That’s when he came to Lighthouse International for help.
Henry met with two Lighthouse employees: Andrea Zaldivar, Director of the Geriatrics and Diabetes Center, and Dr. Shelly Agarwal, optometrist. "Dr. Agarwal conducted one of the most thorough eye exams I’ve ever had in my life," he said. "I was impressed how thorough she was with my vision and the patience she shared with me." Dr. Agarwal suspected a membrane had developed on the back of Henry’s eye and recommended he visit an ophthalmologist. The next day, Dr. Agarwal’s suspicion was confirmed and Henry immediately had successful YAG laser surgery, which cut a hole in the lining of his eye’s lens, allowing light to pass through.
Afterwards, Andrea Zaldivar and Dr. Agarwal recommended prescription glasses for Henry to further enhance his vision. "I have been in a constant state of awe by the improvements in my vision," said Henry, who is currently a diabetes advocate and Community Health Liaison for sanofi-aventis US. "This is the best I’ve seen in more than 10 years. I got a real experience on how the Lighthouse can help others. It’s a beacon of hope."
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