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Andrea Epstein first got involved with the Glaucoma Research Foundation when seeking innovative glaucoma treatments on behalf of her husband who has lived with glaucoma most of his life.
As volunteer Chair of the steering committee for the Glaucoma Research Foundation Patient Summit, Andrea helped to organize and launch the first annual Patient Summit held in San Francisco in 2019.
Andrea Epstein: I got involved with the Glaucoma Research Foundation probably about five years ago. I have always been an active advocate for my husband, who has had advanced glaucoma for as long as I've known him, and we've been married over 30 years. I've been kind of the science brain to his business side, and at the same time, the other side of me was on the professional front. I was working as executive director of an organization called Global Genes. Global Genes focuses on advocacy and education for families with rare diseases. So I kind of blended both my interests and identified pediatric glaucoma as a rare disease and sought out an invitation to Glaucoma 360. And when I arrived here, I was frankly in awe and wowed by the collaboration and just the group of physicians and innovators and researchers that were at this meeting and were focused on not just status quo treatments, but on ways to innovatively solve the glaucoma challenge of people going blind from this disease.
In terms of when my husband was diagnosed, it's a little bit vague because he's in his late fifties, and back when he was born, his parents claim that the doctors looked at him and didn't really know if he could see, but at the time they never really diagnosed him with glaucoma. They saw some anomalies in his eyes, and he just was treated with glasses and was treated to basically have functional vision growing up. He played baseball until a point when he couldn't anymore, and when he was in his mid twenties and was at Harvard Business School, he went to see a physician at the time. His name was Thomas Richardson, who has passed away since then, but it turned out he was a leading national physician in the world of glaucoma and identified that my husband had probably had glaucoma since his earliest years.
So that's why I've continued to focus on being an aggressive seeker of new therapies for him over the years, and how I got to Glaucoma Research Foundation. I think what's most important to me about GRF's mission is the focus on innovative treatments, but more importantly on identifying a cure for glaucoma, being proactive, being aggressive. An organization like Glaucoma Research Foundation, that's actually focused on finding a cure, stopping glaucoma in its tracks, even reversing the effects for people that have advanced glaucoma is so, to me, light years ahead of what other organizations are doing. And it's so important to get the word out there that this is an organization that's going to have a longer term impact for a huge population of people.
Last reviewed on March 10, 2020