The Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation (OLSHF) is grateful for having vision and hearing partners throughout Oregon that discount and donate healthcare so that our most vulnerable neighbors have the gift of sight and sound, fulfilling a promise that Lions made to Helen Keller back in 1925.
When OLSHF was founded in 1959 our very first program, Patient Care, provided vision surgery and treatment here at Good Samaritan Hospital for those in need. The Patient Care program offers such services as corneal transplants, cataract surgery and avastin injections, and the patients we help owe their restored sight to our many amazing partnerships.
Now our longest-running partnership, Legacy-Devers continues to help OLSHF impact lives in new and innovative ways due to the generosity of Dr. Mike Straiko. Dr. Straiko offers one of the most recent breakthroughs in modern sight saving procedures, corneal cross linking. Cross linking addresses the issue of keratoconus, a gradual thinning of the cornea that leads to blindness, without treatment. A progressive disorder, the thinning cornea eventually bulges out, much like a basketball can when it ages.
Says Dr. Straiko: “As that cornea distorts, the patient, it’s like looking through a fun house mirror. Everything becomes distorted and they’re no longer able to function without glasses or contacts. If it progresses too far, they actually need to have their whole cornea replaced, in a corneal transplant, so they can see.”
Cross linking provides a less intrusive option to a corneal transplant, combining the use of ribolflavin and ultra-violet light in a minimally invasive outpatient procedure. Recently approved by the FDA, Dr. Straiko was the first physician to provide corneal cross linking in Oregon.
And due to the generosity of Dr. Straiko and the Devers Cornea Service at Legacy Health, the OLSHF Patient Care program has helped seven Oregonians in the past two years overcome their keratoconus condition through cross linking. One of them, Josh Buxton of Baker City, received help from Dr. Straiko in 2017.
Josh started losing his sight at 25 years and he worried how he would provide for his family of five. His doctor confirmed that he suffered from keratoconus and, lacking resources, Josh turned to his local Lions Club in Baker City. Josh worried that he’d never be able to teach his girls to hunt, fish, and camp – the activities he looked forward to sharing with them for a lifetime.
“I worried I wouldn’t be able to see them grow up, period.”
Fortunately, the Baker City Lions connected Josh with OLSHF who, in turn, partnered with Dr. Straiko.
“I’m so grateful to Dr. Straiko and the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation” says Josh.
Now, Josh can see again and has resumed his job, no longer worrying about supporting his family. He no longer dreams about walking outside his backdoor towards the river, taking his girls on the river to fish or watching his daughter’s dance recital – he is back experiencing life!
The truth is, without partners like Dr. Straiko, OLSHF wouldn’t be able to help people in such a dramatic way, we wouldn’t be able to ‘keep the promise’ as we do now. Our appreciation for Dr. Straiko goes beyond words.
Fortunately for OLSHF, the feeling is mutual, as Dr. Straiko adds:
“I am proud to partner with the Oregon Lions Sight and hearing foundation to help these patients maintain and regain their sight. No one should go blind due to an inability to afford care in Oregon. I love what I do and I thank the Lions for helping me to provide services to those in need. I could not do it without them. Their support is invaluable and deeply appreciated.”