A father's legacy: Giving hope to those with vision loss

Jeanne Poepl learned a lot from her dad, Rusty Poepl, who died in 2008 at the age of 95. Among the many gifts he passed on was an example of how to age gracefully – despite the devastating impact of vision loss. It is a lesson that has stayed with Poepl and even inspired a recent gift to Phillips Eye Institute Foundation.

Rusty was diagnosed with macular degeneration while in his mid-80s. “The first thing to go was driving,” Poepl recalled. “But to be honest, he sort of enjoyed having my mother take over the driving. He would always tell us, ‘I’m the best gawker in town.’”

But as time went on, vision loss took a toll on his independence, personal interests and quality of life. “He coped beautifully, but this was a man who played 12 musical instruments and read four newspapers a day,” said Poepl.

When Poepl learned that Phillips Eye Institute can offer a new telescopic implant treatment for some people with macular degeneration, she wanted to help. Her family’s foundation, the Rusty and Mary Jane Poepl Foundation, was launched a few years ago. Its goal is to honor her parents through charitable giving that focuses on aging issues, music and education.

Poepl knows that if her dad’s vision could have been improved, it would have enriched the last years of his life even more. “We thought this would be a wonderful way to honor our dad,” she said. “This allows us to give someone hope that he or she will see better.”

To learn more about how you can support Phillips Eye Institute Foundation, call Laurie Hennen at 612-775-8758.

What is a telescopic implant?

A telescopic implant is a new device recently approved for people with advanced macular degeneration who meet specific diagnostic criteria. When combined with intensive vision rehabilitation training, the device can help a person to perform daily living tasks and enjoy social interactions more fully. To learn more, call 612-775-8842.

Jeanne Poepl's parents, Rusty and Mary Jane Poepl.