Fall 2014
Fall 2014

Karen Hennessy
In 1998, Karen Hennessy was working as a high school math teacher when some students directed a laser pointer toward her eye. The incident left her disabled, and she sought treatment at the Illinois Eye Institute. Since 2007, Karen has given $24,500 to the IEI.

How she came to the IEI

I had terrific eye pain from light sensitivity. I had double vision. I was falling down, and I was bumping into things. I was living in the dark. I couldn’t watch TV, and I couldn’t have lights on in the house. I went to many, many doctors, at least 50, and they kept saying that they couldn’t do anything. The also said that they weren’t seeing anything in the tests they gave me. I did a program through DORS [the Illinois Department of Rehab Services], where they were trying to rehabilitate me to do another type of job. My counselor said, ‘No one’s going to hire you–you’re a hazard at work. You’re not getting treatment you need.’ So he sent me to Derrald Taylor, OD ’68.

On the care she received

Dr. Taylor diagnosed my condition and sent me to Dominick Maino, OD ’78, who works with double vision patients. I got into binocular vision therapy. I went twice a week for a year and a half. They treated me and helped me to see one image instead of two. I was able to function without falling as much. They gave me special glasses for the light sensitivity, and then I could go outside. It made a world of difference. By the time the year and a half was up, I’d conquered a lot of the disabilities.

Why she gives

During treatment, I wasn’t working and didn’t have any income coming in, and the IEI gave me a grant that paid for most of my care. I was very, very grateful. After eight years of arbitration between my employer and me, it was determined that my employer had to start paying me, including the eight years of back pay. So when I got that money, I wanted to give back to the IEI, because they did a lot for me. I feel like there are other people out there that can use this kind of help. I know what it’s like when you don’t have money and you have severe eye problems. If I can help someone else, it makes me feel just a little bit better about what I went through.

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