Francesca Cicuto-Tietzsch and her mother

Francesca Cicuto-Tietzsch and her mother

Fight for Sight

Adriana Tietzsch broke down in tears when she learned her daughter Francesca was losing her eyesight.

Adriana Tietzsch broke down in tears when she learned her daughter Francesca was losing her eyesight.

It started as most vision problems begin.

The elementary school student complained that she had difficulties seeing the whiteboard in the classroom.

Tietzsch took her daughter to an eye doctor in Red Deer and later to Edmonton for further testing. A genetic test confirmed the 10-year-old had Stargardt Disease, a common childhood eye disease that affects most people under the age of 20.

“Imagine they tell you that your daughter is going to lose her sight,” said Tietzsch. “It has been tough but I have to stay calm for my daughter.”

In time, the young girl will likely lose her vision to the point of legal blindness. There is no cure for the disease.

Her vision today, a year from the date when the family heard the diagnosis, is 20-150. A person with 20-200 vision is considered legally blind.

But Tietzsch did not want to give up the fight for her daughter.

It is what any mother would do.

She started researching and came across eSight, a pair of special glasses for people with low vision that would help her daughter prolong her vision. A fundraising campaign was launched to raise the $15,000 to buy the glasses. They are about $3,000 short of reaching the goal. They have set up Let’s Keep Francesca’s Eyes Open on GoFundMe.

“She will be able to read books because she is a passionate reader,” said Tietzsch. “She has been very discouraged this year because she cannot read small print. In school they have to enlarge the words. Last year she had lots of good grades. She is probably used to living her life in blurriness. With these glasses she will be able to see everything in detail. She is going to be able to have a semi-normal life.”

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Tietzsch said there is no cure and they hope to also raise awareness about this condition and other rare diseases.

“We are trying to do everything we can and spreading the word,” she said.

If Francesca gets her glasses, she will give a presentation focusing on treating everyone the same regardless of differences at her school. She is in Grade 5 at Holy Family School.

Last week the family went to Edmonton so Francesca could try on the glasses but they cannot order them until they have the full amount.

Hoping for a little Christmas magic, Francesca wrote a letter to Santa Claus asking for support to buy the glasses.

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