The gift of vision

Seven-year-old sees the world with new eyes after nystagmus treatment

April 01, 2014

Grace Nassar was three months old when her parents were told she had nystagmus, a condition marked by uncontrollable eye movements. Worse, an underlying condition would eventually make Grace functionally blind.

By age seven, Grace was studying Braille, walking with a white cane and facing an uncertain future. That's when an acquaintance told her parents about Dr. Robert Lingua at UC Irvine Health Gavin Herbert Eye Institute. There, Grace had a revolutionary operation to eliminate her eye movements and improve her vision.

The results were remarkable and shed new light on the truth about the underlying condition. Today, Grace is seeing the world with new eyes.


Lingua is one of the only surgeons in the world performing a revolutionary operation for nystagmus pioneered by Dr. Robert Sinskey. Although the results of most nystagmus treatments are disappointing, patients undergoing the Sinskey procedure experience remarkable improvements in vision. Lingua is sharing his technique to train other surgeons and help nystagmus patients.

Grace is one of those patients. After the Sinskey procedure, she was able to see her mother̕s eyes for the first time and now looks forward to a lifetime of near-normal vision.

To ensure that more young patients are helped by the surgery, Sinskey made two generous contributions to the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute. The first was a videonystagmography instrument, which measures results of the surgery. The second was a donation to establish a state-of-the-art environment for pediatric nystagmus care and other services.

In recognition, the eye institute’s pediatric area will be named the Loraine and Robert Sinskey Pediatric Vision Center. “Dr. Sinskey exemplifies the spirit of lifelong innovation combined with great generosity,” Lingua says.

Find Grace's story in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of UC Irvine Health ›

Consider giving the gift of vision by making a donation to the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute today ›

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