Hawes Family Photo - Mom, Dad, four sons, and a dog sitting outside and smiling. Both parents wearing glasses.

A Family Forever Changed by Research

December 7, 2020

Written by: Aaron Hawes

Hello, my name is Aaron Hawes. I have been a patient at the Retina Foundation for all but the very first few weeks of my life, but even before I was a patient, the research at the Foundation had changed my and my family’s lives forever.

My family has a history of babies being born with a clouding of the eye’s lens or developing the lens opacity very soon after birth. This pediatric eye condition is called congenital cataracts. In 1934, my grandfather was the first in our family to be diagnosed with bilateral congenital cataracts (instead of only one eye having a cataract, both his eyes had cataracts). At the time, the common practice was to remove the cataract at the age of five, and he was left with limited vision in one eye and a few years later would lose his other eye to glaucoma. My mother and aunt in the 70s had similar experiences. Both were born with bilateral congenital cataracts which were removed at 4 and 6 months of age, respectively. Although the surgical techniques had improved, they are both living their lives legally blind.

When my mother was pregnant with me, she assumed I would likely have vision loss. Much to her surprise and gratitude, my eye doctor told my parents that it may be possible for me to live a normal sighted life thanks to new surgical techniques and research pioneered by the Retina Foundation. My parents initially did not believe it to be true, but they knew this would be the best opportunity to allow their son to live a life without vision barriers. The surgery combined with the use of contacts, regular monitoring, and testing by the Retina Foundation, allowed my vision to develop normally.

I have lived a normal sighted life thanks to the Retina Foundation. I became the first person on my mother’s side of my family to be able to drive in three generations, and my vision has never kept me from pursuing any experiences. I cannot thank the Retina Foundation enough for the research and development they do that impacts so many families around the world. Thank you.