10-year-old Long Island girl helps those with eye disease, visual impairments

MASTIC, Long Island (WABC) -- A 10-year-old girl from Suffolk County is helping people all over the world who suffer from eye disease or visual impairments through her foundation, Caitlyn's Vision.

Caitlyn Michiels, of Mastic, was diagnosed in 2018 with bilateral anterior uveitis, which is the third leading cause of blindness in children.

"I was scared I was going to become blind one day," Michiels recalled after receiving the diagnosis.

Doctors recommended Michiels undergo a home chemotherapy treatment for three years in order to combat the disease.

When Michiels' mother, Kimberly Swicicki, got the explanation of benefits from her insurance company which showed the treatment would cost $30,000 a month, Caitlyn immediately asked her mother what would happen if people didn't have insurance to cover the cost.

"I said, unfortunately, people would have to forego their medication and their treatment. And she said, 'Well that's not acceptable, so we need to help,'" Swicicki recounted.

"I definitely was really scared for other people if they couldn't afford it and they wouldn't be able to help get treated," Michiels said.
That's when the idea for Caitlyn's Vision was born.

Recently, Michiels donated 300 fluorescent light covers for elementary school classrooms in her school district, the William Floyd School District. The light covers help reduce the flickering of fluorescent lights which can be harmful for students with visual impairments or epilepsy. They also can help students with ADHD by creating a more soothing learning environment. Michiels hopes to purchase more light covers for more classrooms.

In 2019, she was instrumental in Suffolk County declaring every August Children's Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month.

Michiels has collected more than 600 pairs of used eye glasses to be refurbished for people in need all over the world through Lions Club International. Every Suffolk County legislator has a box in their office to collect donated glasses.

In addition, Caitlyn's Vision has raised $25,000 to date.

"I tell her every night before she goes to bed, 'You're my hero,'" Swicicki said.

Suffolk County Legislator Rudy Sunderman (R-Mastic) has worked with Caitlyn on many of her projects.

"When Caitlyn calls, it could be a message through a text message or it could be a phone call to office or a phone call to the cell, you know, we stop, we listen, and we say, what are we going to do next?" he said.

Caitlyn recently held a blood drive with the Mastic Beach Ambulance Company and the New York Blood Center in which she was able to get every donation slot booked. The event raised 45 pints of blood which could help save more than 100 lives.

Learn more about Caitlyn's Vision.

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