VOICES: Vision screening allows doctors to find brain tumor in woman
Luz Cruz of the St. Nicholas area used to work near the office of Michael Powers. Passing his office of optometry on the way to work each day, Cruz decided it would be a good idea to make an appointment for an eye exam. She had been experiencing a black spot in one of her eyes and realized it wasn’t a part of her normal vision.
“I made an appointment and he checked my eyes,” said Cruz, “then, Dr. Powers told me that he was referring me to someone else–a specialist.”
Next, Nel Nevins from Powers’ office called Leslie Manning, coordinator of the Cared Vision Network program, at the Vision Is Priceless Council. Nevins mentioned that Cruz might qualify for assistance through the Cared Vision Network program, so Manning spoke with Cruz and determined she did indeed qualify.
The Cared Vision Network is made up of ophthalmologists, optometrists and opticians who donate eye exams and eyeglasses within the community.
“It is through the work of these dedicated professionals that those in need are able to access important vision-related services,” Manning said.
Manning arranged an appointment with William J. Knauer III, an ophthalmologist in private practice and member of the Cared Vision Network.
“He [Knauer] checked my eyes and my vision,” Cruz said.
“I suspected a brain tumor,” said Knauer, “and the visual field confirmed it.”
Cruz was scheduled for an MRI–a magnetic resonance image, which uses magnetic forces, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed images. In Cruz’ case, the MRI showed the details of the tumor that had been causing the black spot Cruz sometimes saw and other symptoms including diabetes and personality changes.
“This was a tumor that extended beyond the pituitary gland into the brain,” said Knauer. “It was pretty big and not only would Luz have lost her vision, but possibly her life, if left untreated.”
Treating medical conditions can be a costly venture, and brain surgery is no exception. With limited financial resources, Cruz was in a difficult position. With the help of Sr. DeSales and St. Vincent’s Medical Center, the costs of the MRI, surgery and hospitalization were covered.
“Sister DeSales and St. Vincent’s Medical Center made this treatment possible,” Knauer said. “I am very grateful for their commitment to our community.”
Paulo Monteiro, a neurosurgeon, and Michael Loper, an otolaryngologist, agreed to operate on Cruz and remove the tumor.
“This was a tricky, very sophisticated procedure,” Knauer said. “It was exceptionally nice of Drs. Monterio and Loper to offer their services. It was a risky procedure that ended in great reward for Cruz.”
And hopefully, great reward for Monteiro and Loper in the satisfaction of helping someone truly in need.
“I was in the hospital for five days,” Cruz said. “At my last checkup, the doctors told me everything was looking good, everything was perfect. The doctors were good. I am very grateful to them for the help and support they gave me.”
Early detection and treatment of most eye diseases and disorders ensures better outcomes, as seen in the case of Cruz. It was the detection of the brain tumor that saved her life.
The Cared Vision Network is a program offered through the Vision Is Priceless Council. VIP provides more than 100,000 vision free screenings each year to children and adults throughout Northeast Florida to ensure early detection of vision and eye conditions and diseases. All VIP programs are funded through the donations of individuals, corporations and other organizations dedicated to keeping residents’ eyes healthy.
The non-profit Vision Is Priceless Council works to preserve the vision of Northeast Florida residents through programs such as free screening and early detection of potential eye disease. For more information, call 308-2020 or visit Jacksonville.com, keywords: vision is priceless.