Think About Your Eyes Announces #seebeyond2020 Contest Winners


Gwendolyn and Patricia Burke.

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Think About Your Eyes, a national public awareness campaign about the importance of scheduling an annual eye exam with an optometrist, has announced the winners of the #seebeyond2020 contest. In October 2019, Think About Your Eyes launched the contest to capture and feature the stories of individuals whose lives were enhanced by visiting the eye doctor. Winners were selected by a panel of six judges who reviewed all 1,900 entries. Criteria in winner selection included how well the eye health story communicated a life-changing impact of an eye exam and how well it conveyed how eye health contributes to the quality of life.

The contest’s grand prize winner is Patricia Burke of Summerville, S.C., who submitted her daughter Gwendolyn’s story. The Burke family adopted Gwendolyn from China shortly before her 15th birthday. When her parents noticed she was squinting, they asked her if she had trouble seeing and she told them she did.

During her 13 years at an orphanage, there were no records of her ever having an eye exam. Since her eye exam and getting glasses, Burke reports Gwendolyn has flourished in school. Gwendolyn’s experience also inspired Burke to take her other children in for a comprehensive eye exam, and she learned her other two daughters also needed vision correction.

“When we took her in for an eye exam, her vision was really bad,” Burke said. “Her seeing for the first time was nothing short of amazing. She danced, she clapped, she jumped and squealed! It touched all of our hearts that day.”

“At Think About Your Eyes, we believe vision health is about so much more than 20/20 vision,” said Jane Balek, executive director of Think About Your Eyes. “Through the #seebeyond2020 contest, we were inspired to hear stories like the Burke family’s. We hope they will inspire others to prioritize their vision health and schedule an annual comprehensive eye exam.”

As the grand prize winner, Burke was awarded a $1,000 cash prize. A total of 10 additional winners were selected to receive a $25 cash prize. Additional winners included:

• Kathleen Noland of Lakewood, Colo., who learned she had retinopathy and macular edema, which could have caused blindness if left untreated, after a routine eyeglass prescription update.

• Tonya Snyder of Mesquite, Nev., who was diagnosed with gestational diabetes as a result of her eye doctor’s recommendation to be tested early.

• Erin Bolin of Pomeroy, Ohio, who visited the eye doctor for the first time in 20 years and learned she had the beginning stages of glaucoma.

• Rebecca Belt of Grand Forks, N.D., who became a certified ophthalmic assistant as a result of her sister’s diagnosis of melanoma in her eye.

• Patricia Lee of Tullahoma, Tenn., who received an early ocular melanoma diagnosis as a result of annual eye exams, which ultimately saved her sight.

• Amanda Johnson of White Oak, Texas, who took her daughter for her first eye exam, learned she had strabismic amblyopia and through therapy improved her vision from 20/200 to 20/40.

• June Wilson of Madison, Wis., who followed her eye doctor’s advice to be screened by her doctor and learned she had type 1 diabetes.

• Jenni Eilers, who submitted on behalf of Matt, age 6, from Kansas City, Mo., who gained confidence to learn and speak up in class after getting glasses.

• Jill Stockton of Reno, Nev., who saw her trigeminal neuralgia-like symptoms go away after her eye doctor and ocular mobility specialist prescribed progressive bi-focals with prism.

• Crystal Butler of West Warwick, R.I., whose blurry vision during pregnancy led her to see an eye doctor who thought she might have gestational diabetes and led to a life-saving diagnosis for her and her baby.

Throughout 2020, Think About Your Eyes will continue to share more about these winners’ stories. To learn more about the impact an eye exam had on these winners’ lives, follow Think About Your Eyes on Facebook, Instagram  and Twitter

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