You can’t fool the camera
Legate’s Know the Glow campaign helps build awareness of childhood eye disorders . . .
Like a picture, a photograph is worth a thousand words. However, if you see a photo of a child in which one eye is red and there’s a glow of any other color in the other, the words should be few and followed by an exclamation mark: “See an eye doctor!”
So-called “red eye,” in which the flash of the camera reflects off the retina, is a normal if annoying phenomenon. But glows or glints of any other color, usually white or blackish, may indicate any one of 15 eye disorders — two of which are especially malignant: Coats’ Disease (which can lead to blindness) and retinoblastoma (a potentially lethal cancer that occurs in one in every 15,000 births). If detected early, chances for a full cure or substantial recovery of sight are very good.
The Know the Glow campaign aims to educate people about childhood eye disorders that often are detected too late, but are easily caught. Conducted under the auspices of the Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), the campaign launched last summer after Lannette Turicchi of Legatus’ Hollywood Chapter felt God’s call to help her friend, Megan Webber.
Webber’s son, Benjamin, benefited from treatment at the Vision Center after she took him in for an exam. Doctors diagnosed him with Coats’ Disease, and laser treatment restored much of the sight in his affected eye.
“Megan sent me a note saying she wanted to ask some friends to raise money for the Vision Center to educate other families about ‘the glow,’” said Turicchi, a filmmaker. “I felt a little voice from God saying, ‘Instead of telling a few friends, let’s tell everyone about it.”
So Turicchi got on the phone with Rob Mudd — the son of her friend and fellow Legate Jim Mudd, CEO of Mudd Advertising — who runs Mudd 360, the media wing of his father’s firm.
“When I told Rob we needed their help, he said to count him in,” said Turicchi. “Mudd employees lent their money and time to create a great tool at KnowTheGlow.org to educate parents about the possible dangers associated with ‘the glow.’”
So far, the site has gotten over four million hits, thanks in part to Turicchi’s neighbor Larry Hitchcock, a multi-media executive who works with AOL on non-profit campaigns. He convinced AOL to feature the campaign on its homepage last February. It became one of AOL’s most visited clips for cause marketing.
Future plans include creating a marketing deck to help get corporations to spread the word among families and pediatricians, who often overlook eye disorders in children.
“When examining an eye, pediatricians can’t see the part where that odd glow is emanating from, so they tend to assume everything is normal,” said Dr. Mark Borchert, head of the Vision Center at CHLA. “Consequently, the diagnosis of any of these diseases associated with the glow is often made late, resulting in more severe vision loss — or in the case of retinoblastoma, even death. Through this campaign, pediatricians and parents can be armed with the knowledge to change children’s destinies.”
“It’s the Vision Center’s goal that every child sees a sunset,” said Webber. “At first, I’d been erasing the glow in Benjamin’s eye with the photo software on my computer. Knowing that I had been ignoring the very warning sign that could have potentially been lethal, I just want to be sure all parents know to watch for this recurring glow.”
As for Turicchi, she will continue promoting a campaign she believes is intrinsically holy.
“My decision to get involved goes back to understanding God’s beauty, which I learned from Dr. Tom Dillon [the late Legate and president of Thomas Aquinas College, who died in a car crash in 2009]. We had this conversation back when they were building the college chapel. He talked of God’s beauty and how sometimes people don’t know God until they are able to see His glory. How could I not help when 80% of childhood blindness is preventable through early detection? I’m passionate about filmmaking. Could I do that if I were blind?”
Matthew A. Rarey is Legatus Magazine’s editorial assistant.