More common now than ever, Keratoconus, which was once thought to occur in one in 2,000 people, is now one in 500. The daughter of Steve and Lynn Horvat, Allison Horvat is among those affected.
According to information available through the National Keratoconus Foundation, KC is a non-inflammatory eye condition in which the normally round dome-shaped cornea progressively thins, causing a cone-like bulge to develop, resulting in significant visual impairment.
According to its website, the Boxer Wachler's Vision Institute in Beverly Hills is home to Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler's invention, the Holcomb C3-R. During the non-invasive, 30-minute, in-office procedure, the Holcomb C3-R -- his proprietary Crosslinking Solution -- is applied to the cornea, and then activated by a special light, thereby strengthening the weak corneal structure present in individuals with Keratoconus.
Photo by Kathleen Palumbo, Town Crier correspondent
Allison Horvat, center, pictured with her parents Steve and Lynn Horvat, will soon be given a second chance at a lifetime of sight. The family will travel in July to the Boxer Wachler’s Vision Institute, where Allison will be treated by Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler. An ongoing benefit to assist the family with expenses will be held at 7 p.m. each Tuesday from May 15 through June 26 at the Ice House, 5516 West Webb Road in Austintown.
The procedure can be combined with the use of Intacs -- clear, thin, prescription inserts placed under the surface in the periphery of the cornea. Both techniques for Keratoconus were invented by Boxer Wachler.
Boxer Wachler's breakthrough procedure has been widely publicized, and came to the attention of Lynn Horvat, who, in a letter, poured out the agony of a mom watching as her daughter slowly loses her sight to Dr. Boxer Wachler, saying, "She has gorgeous blue eyes and it hurts me so much to see them not being used to their maximum capacity."
Horvat went on to say that 28-year-old Allison, who has Downs Syndrome, attends the Purple Cat day programming facility in Youngstown, where she enjoys her job in the cafe.
"Allison doesn't expect much in life," wrote Horvat, adding, "She gives unconditional love to everyone that she comes in contact with."
In addition, Horvat said Allison loves to watch her DVDs on TV and loves to listen to her Christian CDs.
"I would regret for the rest of my life if I didn't do everything in my power to try and get her the proper medical treatment that she needs to enjoy the rest of her life by being able to see the beauty that God had intended her to see," she said.
Deeply touched by her letter, according to Horvat, a staff member at the Boxer Wachler Vision Center forwarded her correspondence to Brian Boxer Wachler. Sharing that she was contacted soon thereafter, Horvat said Allison was deemed a candidate for the procedure.
Invented in 2002, according to information found at www.boxerwachler.com, "Holcomb C3-R allows for the convenience of treatment of both eyes at the same time, and is available only at the Boxer Wachler Vision Institute.
In July, Alli will travel with her parents to Beverly Hills for the procedure. Explaining that insurance will not cover any portion of the procedure, the Horvat family will be solely responsible for both travel and medical costs.
An Allison Horvat "Bike Nite" Benefit will be held at 7 p.m. every Tuesday evening from May 15 through June 26 at the Ice House, 5516 West Webb Road, Austintown. The weekly event will include a Chinese auction, a 50/50 raffle, and in addition, a 1967 Kawasaki TR 120 will be raffled off.
An account has also been established at Farmers National Bank in the name of "Eyes for Alli" for which checks can be made out to Mary Lynn Horvat.
Sharing that her daughter asked her what would happen if she didn't have the surgery, Horvat said she had her daughter close her eyes.
"If I do have the surgery, will I see blue," asked Allison, to which her mom replied, "You'll see rainbows Alli. You'll see rainbows."