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My relationship with Jim Strauss began several years ago when Jim was a student in one of my photography classes. Through conversations during the class I found that Jim's profession and motivations were quite fascinating and sincere.

Our paths would again cross years later.

In the spring of 2001, our youngest son, Emerson, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma. This rare form of cancer would result in the loss of his right eye while in Philadelphia seeking the care of Dr. Carol Sheilds at the Wills Eye Hospital. This was our only option as the advanced stage of the disease, even at the tender age of eleven months, left us no choice. From diagnosis to the enucleation of Emerson's eye was three days.

Our lives had turned upside-down. Period.

The staff at the oncology department of Wills Eye Hospital informed us that we would need the services of an ocularist. Not a term that one recognizes unless they had been exposed to the profession at some point in their lives. Standing in the office I remembered that I actually knew an ocularist. The staff doubted my revelation as ocularists are few and far between. When I assured them that I did know one in Rochester, New York without hesitation they said, " You must mean Jim Strauss." Yes! I was right but what now.

We had again made contact but not in the most desirable of circumstances. We've all seen fake eyes because they look like fake eyes. My concern was put at ease after our first appointment with Jim, as the caliber of his work was apparent as I sat in the waiting room looking for the fake eyes. I didn't see any.

The professionalism of Strauss Eye Prosthetics was only surpassed by the caring nature shown to my son, my wife and I. Throughout the day, I felt at ease with the process at hand. As a photographer I am quite attune to things that are visual. The appearance of Emerson's eye was paramount As I came to learn there is more to the look of the eye, the fit is critical. This is when I saw the perfect blend of art and science.

The willingness of Jim to accommodate Emerson's needs became apparent when he met us at 5 A.M. at the hospital while Emerson was having an MRI. He did this because it was convenient for Emerson. Our son has always been treated with respect and as a child in need of a prosthetic eye not simply the next patient on the schedule.

Perhaps, much to Jim's dismay, Mike has become Emerson's new best buddy. " You know. Dad, the guy who makes my eyes", he says with a grin. Their superior craftsmanship not only provides a tangible prosthesis but perhaps more importantly a sense of normalcy, confidence and comfort for a child with one real eye and one created just for him.

We are forever grateful to the entire Strauss family.

Michael Parks - Brighton, New York

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