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One man losing his sight due to lack of insurance

8:48 AM, Dec 23, 2011   |    comments
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Elisha Harrell says he's thankful he can still see his 1-year-old son Ean, even if it's just a little bit.

"I lost my vision in my right eye completely about a year ago," he said.

Then about five months ago, the 32-year-old unemployed marketing manager lost the ability to see clearly in his left eye. At 12 years old, Elisha was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. He needs three daily injections of insulin to survive, but he says as a kid he didn't take his condition serioulsly, often skipping shots.

"I started to rebel," he said.

He says he got his act together in college, but fell back into his old ways after losing his job and with it, his health insurance.

"I was basically not eating a lot so my blood sugar wouldn't go as high, maybe go out and run instead of giving myself insulin because that's another way of sort of controlling it," he said.

Elisha had some savings, but didn't see a doctor even when diabetes caused his eyesight to fail. That was a big mistake.

"If he had waited any longer and he would have lost vision in both eyes," Dr. Allen Ho said.

Dr. Ho treated Elisha after he finally got a new job with insurance.

"He came in with significant bleeding and scaring in the eye," Dr. Ho said.

Dr. Ho saved what was left of elisha's vision through laser surgery and medication. Elisha lost his latest job because he couldn't see to do the work. He's stockpiled three months worth of insulin worth about $700 and says he asks doctors for free samples.

"If there is one thing I won't do is not see a doctor," he said.

(Copyright © 2011 NBC Universal, All Rights Reserved)

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