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Huron man raising money for prosthetic eye: Benefit for Shawn Pugsley planned April 21 at Huron Campus Center

Posted: Monday, Apr 15th, 2013


Shawn Pugsley


One Huron man is accustomed to being stared at when he walks into public places. He has gotten used to it to the point that it doesn’t bother him. But what does bother 38-year-old Shawn Pugsley is that most kids are scared by the sight of him. “They aren’t used to seeing someone without an eye. It’s not natural,” he said.

His parents are Bob and Crystal Pugsley of Huron, and his grandmother is Carol Vander Laan of Huron.

The sequence of events that led to him losing his left eye started one morning when he was 12. Shawn looked in the mirror and saw his left eye was red and irritated. His mother took him to the doctor to treat what they thought was pink-eye.

When the doctor realized it wasn’t pink-eye, but something more serious, he sent them to Sioux Falls to get a specialist’s opinion.

The diagnosis came as a shock. Shawn had been infected by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which began to aggressively attack his left eye. The question wasn’t if he would lose vision in the eye, but when.

A year later, Shawn went completely blind in the one eye. “I gradually lost a little bit of sight every day,” he said.

The eye doctor would shine a light in his eye every visit. “He would asked me ‘Can you see this?’ and I got so used to saying yes, that even when my left eye was blind I said yes,” Shawn remembered. “Deep inside, I really wanted to see light. But I never did after that. The last thing I remember seeing with that eye was the biggest letter ‘E’ the doctor could find.”

With his left eye eventually being removed, Shawn has been left with a painfully obvious reminder on his face that there is something missing. A plastic shield fits over the opening where the eye used to be.

Recently, he found out that he can get what is known as a prosthetic eye from Midwest Eye Laboratories in Sioux Falls. “It would look more natural and they will paint it to match my right eye,” he said. “It takes two days. On the first day, they take an impression of my socket and then they create the eye. The second day, I will have to sit in front of the doctor so that he can paint the eye to match my right one.”

The doctor told him it looks like he will have the left-to-right movement in the prosthetic, but not any diagonal movement. “The muscles that control the left to right movement are still intact,” he said. “So it should focus with my other eye and look almost normal.”

He is currently employed by Horizontal Machining and Manufacturing as a machinist. Because Shawn’s insurance does not cover all of the costs of getting the prosthetic eye, his friends and family are holding a benefit for him on Sunday, April 21, at the Campus Community Center, located at 333 9th St. S.W. in Huron. The benefit will run from 5 to 7 p.m. and will consist of a baked potato bar, a raffle sale to win a Wii game console, and door prizes.

There will be refreshments and plenty of baked potato toppings in exchange for a freewill offering. There is also an account set up for his prosthetic eye fund at American Bank & Trust in Huron.

Shawn says getting a prosthetic eye will be a big transformation. “It has been so many years since I’ve looked in the mirror and seen myself with two brown eyes. I know it will help my confidence. I’m really excited to see my family’s reaction…I think they are going to love it.”



For the complete article see the 04-14-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 04-14-2013 paper.


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