An Eye for Giving

Ernest Tschannen
Ernest Tschannen

Four years ago, Ernest Tschannen’s eyesight was failing. As someone who walks six miles every day and cherishes his time outdoors, losing his sight to glaucoma was a frightening prospect.

Referred by his optometrist to the UC Davis Eye Center, Tschannen underwent surgery to improve his vision and manage his glaucoma, a disease that damages the eye's optic nerve and can result in vision loss and blindness when untreated.

“I am grateful for their work, and I am very much impressed with the results,” said Tschannen, an engineer from Switzerland who moved to Minneapolis in the 1950s and now lives in Sacramento County.

His experience at the eye center inspired him to donate $1.5 million to UC Davis to advance research on the optic nerve and to help find a cure for glaucoma and other eye diseases.

Tschannen’s gift has the potential to help some of the 52,000 patients who are referred to the eye center for advanced specialty care every year. The funds will be used to hire a stem cell biologist and support an interdisciplinary research team focused on gaining a better understanding of how to stimulate the repair and regrowth of the optic nerve.

 “Mr. Tschannen’s gift is inspiring eye center physicians and scientists to find innovative treatments for patients with disabling eye disease," said Mark J. Mannis, chair of ophthalmology and vision science, and director of the eye. "He is giving a gift that will profoundly affect the lives of patients for generations to come.”