Seeing Is Believing

(WSVN) - Imagine losing your sight in the prime of life. That’s what happened to one South Florida man. Thanks to a new treatment by a visionary doctor, Richard White hopes to be able to see again someday, but he needs your help. Lynn Martinez has this special assignment report, “Seeing Is Believing.”

They play together every day.

Richard White Jr.: “That’s my boy. Say, ‘Let’s go Heat.’

Son: “Go Heat.”

But Richard White Jr. has never seen his son’s face.

Richard White Jr.: “I see shades of colors. I don’t see faces.”

Richard used to have normal vision, but 12 years ago, he developed pseudotumor cerebri, which happens when pressure inside the skull increases and causes swelling of the optic nerve.

Richard White Jr.: “It’s like when you wave your hand in front of your face and all you see is just a shadow. That’s my vision every day.”

Then, last March, Richard had his TV turned to 7News.

Vanna Belton, original story: “It was three days and three months after my surgery that I realized I could see.”

He listened to the story about Dr. Jeffrey Weiss, a Broward ophthalmologist using stem cells to help blind people see again.

Richard White Jr.: “I was very excited. That was my way to get my vision back after 12 years!”

To date, Dr. Weiss has treated some 350 patients. More than half now have some vision back. A few have made dramatic progress.

Dr. Jeffrey Weiss, ophthalmologist: “We’ve had about eight people now get driver’s licenses, from being legally blind.”

Even more surprising, some patients have reported other positive changes after the stem cell treatment — improvements in walking, speaking, hearing and sense of smell.

Dr. Jeffrey Weiss: “It’s really very exciting, and it’s led to the development of the NEST trial neurology stem cell trial.”

In that study, Dr. Weiss and his team hope to show how stem cell treatments can improve function for certain neurological conditions, like Parkinson’s disease.

In the meantime, he continues to give his patients hope for better sight. Hope for people like Richard, who sent his medical records to Dr. Weiss after seeing our story.

Richard White Jr.: “They called me back within three to four days later and said that I was a candidate for the program.”

But insurance won’t cover the cost, so Richard has to raise the money to pay for the procedure — almost $20,000.

He’s got a long way to go, but he’s determined.

Richard White Jr.: “My hopes and plans are basically just to stay strong. Stay patient and keep pushing.”

He’ll keep pushing in the hopes of seeing his family once again.

To learn more about Richard’s GoFundMe page and Dr. Weiss’ clinical trials, check out the links below.

FOR MORE INFO:

Richard White, Jr.
GoFundMe

NEST
Neurologic Stem Cell Treatment Study

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