When Jan Phillips lost her sight, she thought to herself, “What am I missing the most? What would I do if I could see again?”
As a teenager, Jan was diagnosed with keratoconus, an eye disease in which the cornea bulges outward and distorts vision. If the disease progresses, vision loss can be severe.
For a long time glasses and contact lenses allowed Jan to function, attend college and start a family. But her vision was deteriorating. It got so bad that she felt like she couldn’t take care of her children by herself. Her husband would rush home after work to help with the kids, four boys between the ages of 9 and 1.
“It was really tough,” Jan said. “I was basically blind because I couldn’t tolerate contact lenses anymore.”
But Jan held on to the hope for restored vision, and in 1981, using tissue prepared by Eversight, she received two cornea transplants. For the first time since she was a teenager, Jan felt like the world was flooding in.
“It made everything bright and clear,” Jan said. “I just hadn’t realized some of the things I’d been missing.”
Jan jumped back into gear with her restored sight, revitalized and energized to take advantage of everything life had to offer. She knew what she wanted. She’d raise her children and pursue her passion for music.
“I told myself I wasn’t going to miss out on what I could have been doing once I could see again,” Jan said. “I started studying music seriously, and that became a big part of my life.”
She joined the Michigan Opera Theatre and traveled the world performing as a classical singer. Today, when she’s not busy doting over nine grandchildren, Jan is a voice teacher, a church organist and a choir director. And more than 30 years after her first two operations, Jan had repeat cornea transplants in 2015 and 2017 with Dr. Steven Dunn at Michigan Cornea Consultants.
Thanks to eye donation, she’s living a life full of sight.
“It’s something I’m very grateful for,” Jan said. “I treasure waking up in the morning and being able to see when I open my eyes.”
Jan wanted to raise awareness for Eversight and our sight-saving work. So for her birthday this year, she started a personal fundraiser on Facebook and asked her family and friends to consider contributing to Eversight as a way to celebrate.
Every little bit would help, she told them, and she raised $231 in just a few days. To Jan, campaigning on behalf of Eversight was an easy and fun way to make a difference. Thanks to her efforts, more people around the world will have the opportunity to see the things that are most important to them.
“It feels great to know you’re helping other people through the gift of sight,” Jan said. “Starting the fundraiser on behalf of Eversight was fun and easy, and I’d encourage anyone to go for it if they want to make a difference.”