Did You Know?

By age 65, one in 11 of us will have developed significant vision loss. By age 75, it is up to one in seven.
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Who Your Gift Helps – Nadia Lissog

Photo of Nadia Lissog

Sea Change
Nadia Lissog

Change Catalyst: CNIB’s Right to Sight advocacy campaign. Two weeks, 8,000 letters, extensive media coverage – and one overturned decision.

In April 2008, Nadia Lissog’s retinal specialist told her about Lucentis, a new treatment for wet AMD (age-related macular degeneration), a devastating disease affecting 100,000 Canadians. The 78-year-old Ontario resident had developed wet AMD in her left eye in the 1990s. The treatment available at that time didn’t work well, and she couldn’t afford it anyway, so she lost her sight in that eye. Years later, she developed wet AMD in her right eye. With both eyes affected, Nadia couldn’t read or see faces, and she felt cut off from the world.

Lucentis had been shown to prevent further vision loss, but also, for the first time, to restore lost vision for many wet AMD patients – a remarkable breakthrough. But in December 2007, the Common Drug Review (CDR), a government body that recommends drugs for provincial and territorial health plans, issued a negative recommendation for Lucentis. Knowing that without a positive decision, the treatment would be out of reach for most Canadians, CNIB swung into action. Within a short time frame, more than 8,000 people wrote letters of concern to decision-makers. Meanwhile the Government of Ontario, which CNIB had lobbied separately, decided on its own to reimburse Lucentis (joining Quebec, which already covered it). Two weeks later, CDR recommended the treatment for all Canadians.

Nadia has received five Lucentis treatments since then. When her vision in her right eye started clearing, she was beyond ecstatic. Today she can read and see faces, including those of her two grandchildren. “Eyesight is very important,” she says. “If blindness can be prevented, it should.”

“I’m glad CNIB is working with people like me and supporting people writing to the government. I think it’s a wonderful thing you are doing.” – Nadia Lissog

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