Annual Appeal 2017

Help Save Sight!

As Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at Wills Eye Hospital, I wear many hats: as a cheerleader, teacher, researcher, and – alongside Joseph Bilson, our Chief Executive Officer – as an administrator. But today I am writing in the role that is closest to my heart: as a retinal surgeon who cares deeply about the patients I am honored to serve.

I want to share with you a bit about one of those patients: a gentleman named Robert who is the recipient of an exciting and innovative new technology at Wills Eye. Here is his story:

Robert came to Wills Eye Hospital suffering from diabetic macular edema. Because of his diabetes, the damaged blood vessels in his retina were leaking fluid and causing swelling in his central macula, where his best vision was. This serious condition is the leading cause of blindness in working age Americans.  

            Before coming to Wills Eye, Robert was receiving standard care for the condition, which entailed getting regular injections to block the vascular leakage, directly into his eye. “It was the scariest thing in the world!” he said of those injections.

            But here at Wills Eye, Robert is benefitting from an advanced innovation: a tiny implant, smaller than a grain of rice, that is inserted in the eye to deliver vision-saving medication over time. This amazing technology minimizes discomfort for the patient, demands much less time on the patient’s part, and is much less invasive than the standard treatment.

I have placed one of these remarkable implants in each of Robert’s eyes, and not only are they working to save his eyesight right now, they will continue to deliver his medication over the course of several years without his having to come back in to receive injections.

Robert is just one of more than 300,000 patients who came to Wills Eye Hospital last year for vision-saving care. Each of these individuals is personally important to us, and all of them benefitted directly from the generosity of our charitable donors. Wills Eye Hospital is a nonprofit charitable organization, which means that every service we provide depends on philanthropic support.

That is why I invite you to join Joe Bilson and me to be a part of our treasured Fund for Vision donors, and urge you to please make a gift of $50, $100, or $250 to the Fund for Vision, our essential resource for addressing the hospitals top funding priorities. Gifts of $1,832 or more will qualify you for membership in the prestigious 1832 SocietyCharitable donors have sustained our excellence ever since the hospital was established in 1832 by Quaker merchant James Wills. Over these many years, philanthropic support has enabled Wills Eye to grow and excel as an international leader in top-level care, research, and education.

Now with my chief administrator’s hat on, I want to share some very exciting news! As you may know, Wills Eye has the most sought-after Residency and Fellowship programs in the world. These talented young physicians represent the future of ophthalmology…they will soon be saving the sight of people like Robert.

To ensure that Wills Eye Hospital continues to train the finest ophthalmologists in the world, plans are underway to build and equip an extraordinary new Surgical Training Laboratory. This cutting edge lab will enable our Residents, Fellows, and medical staff to hone their skills in a realistic surgical simulation environment that includes multiple high-tech workstations, and advanced video-streaming capabilities. Your  gift to the Fund for Vision is particularly important at this time as it will provide essential support for this important initiative.

Eyesight is one of life’s most precious gifts, and our patients rely on Wills Eye Hospital to protect it. That was certainly the case with Robert. A licensed captain, he and his wife, Anna, have enjoyed many years of boating along the Eastern seaboard. That enjoyment, however, was at risk.

“It’s hard to captain a boat without eyesight!” said Robert. “You don’t fully realize how important your sight is until there’s a threat of losing it. Now, thanks to Wills Eye, my vision is saved. I think I’m the luckiest man in the world.”

People like Robert are why Joe and I are so devoted to the preservation and restoration of eyesight. We hope that you will join us in this important endeavor. Help save sight.

But above all, your support affirms the difference that you make for the thousands of individuals – people like Robert – who rely on us every day for sight-saving care.

Along with Joe Bilson and all of the outstanding people at Wills Eye Hospital, I thank you for making your generous tax-deductible gift today.


Julia A. Haller, M.D.