New Exhibit Features Photos by Once-Blind Patients

What if the blind could suddenly see? A unique art exhibit featuring photographs taken by people who were once blind but can now see because of a corneal transplant opens in Denver with a special preview on November 13 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Network Gallery, located at 878 Santa Fe Drive. The exhibit will remain at Artwork Network through Thanksgiving. It will then travel to driver's license offices, shopping malls and libraries throughout Colorado and Wyoming through the summer of 2011. The exhibit is presented by the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank (RMLEB). Centura Health and Colorado Corneal Consultants, PC, are major sponsors of the project.

The exhibit photos are from the eye bank's Circle of Light Photo Project, and were taken by people from all around the United States who received cornea or sclera (the white part of the eye) transplants from an eye donor in Colorado or Wyoming. The Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank (RMLEB) asked recipients to pick up a camera and capture the things they were most grateful to be able to see through their restored vision. 

"I look at life in a completely different way since the transplant," said Karen Wiest, project participant from Grand Junction, Colorado. "I thank the donor's family in my prayers for giving me the gift of sight."

The twenty-five photos featured in the exhibit were selected by professional photographers Lucia De Giovanni and Natascha Seideneck from over 150 photos submitted. Seideneck, an associate professor of art at Metropolitan State College of Denver, also conducted an online webinar to teach participants some basic photography skills. All of the photos submitted will also be featured in an online gallery via the eye bank's website in the coming months. 

The exhibit will open with a special preview event on November 13. Tickets to the November 13 opening night event are $25, if purchased in advance at www.corneas.org, or $35 at the door (cash or check only at the door). Tickets include hors d'oeuvres, wine provided by Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, a silent auction of the photos and music by DJ Max Klaw. All proceeds from the event will benefit RMLEB and its sight-restorative mission. Admission to the gallery after November 13 is free.

Cornea transplants are a cure for corneal blindness, which accounts for about 10 percent of all blindness. Each year, approximately 600 people in Colorado and Wyoming receive sight-restorative transplants. The Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank facilitates the donation and transplantation of over 1,500 corneas each year from donors in Colorado and Wyoming. Since 1982, RMLEB has facilitated over 30,000 transplants.

Contrary to popular belief, eye donors do not need good eyesight. Even donors who were legally blind are able to help someone else through donation and transplantation of their eye tissue.  Colorado and Wyoming residents can register to be eye, organ and tissue donors at the time of driver's license renewal or online at www.DonateLifeColorado.org or www.DonateLifeWyoming.org. Registration forms will be available at the exhibit.

Cornea transplant recipients know better than anyone the impact eye, organ and tissue donation can have on the lives of others. Through this project, the recipients had a chance to give back, honor their donor and show the world just how big that impact is.

The Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank serves eye donors and their families and provides for sight-saving transplantation locally, nationally and worldwide. It is the recovery agency for donated eye tissue in Colorado and Wyoming.


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