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This Man Can Still See to Blow His Own Trumpet

Meet the participants of the Circle of Light Photo Project

July 30, 2019

The cornea transplant recipients who participated in this year's Circle of Light Photo Project come from a wide variety of locations and backgrounds. Yet, each had their lives transformed by the generosity of another person through eye tissue donation and transplantation. While many cornea recipients regain their sight in total, some still live with vision loss due to other complications in the eye. Nonetheless, each is eternally thankful to their donors. Today, we'd like you to meet Chris Lawson.

Chris Lawson is a professional trumpet player, soloing and performing with the Colorado Springs Philharmonic Orchestra for 42 years, as well as freelancing as much as possible. So, reading music is a very high priority for him.  While working on a cruise ship in 2016, he became very concerned when he started seeing a dark "curtain coming down" in his left eye. The ship's doctor referred him to an eye doctor on land at the next port. Unfortunately, Chris was misdiagnosed by that doctor and sent on his way. Returning to the United States 3 weeks later, he learned he had suffered a retinal separation and was 90% blind in his left eye by that time.

Multiple surgeries to repair the separated retina resulted in too much damage to Chris' cornea. In order to keep his eye, he received a corneal transplant in November 2018.  Sadly, he will never have much useable sight out of his left eye, not because of the cornea, but because of the damage caused by the retinal separation. “I won’t ever be able to see much out of my left eye, but I am thankful I was able to keep my eye. Without the generosity of my donor, my eye would have died and I would have lost it.”

Chris has since needed cataract correction and a vitrectomy in his right eye but is still able to read music and drive. He has suffered some tremendous vision loss but is grateful for what he’s got. “It’s hard to accept going half-blind, but I am still capable of doing what I love and that’s what is important.”

One of the photos Chris submitted to the project poignantly shows how his transplant has let him do what he does best. It's taken from his seat in the Colorado Springs Philharmonic Orchestra. 

The Circle of Light Photo Project is a collection of photographs taken by people whose blindness was treated by cornea transplants. Join us for the best art show and party in Denver on August 24 at the RedLine Contemporary Art Center. Your ticket includes the art exhibit, a cornea clindness experience, food, beer & wine, music by DJ Ginger Perry, and a silent auction of the photos and hundreds of other items. All proceeds go to help the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank continue its sight saving mission. Get your tickets now!

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