Chad Elledge was born with an eye condition that went undetected for the first six months of his life. As it turns out, he had cataracts in both eyes, necessitating surgery to remove the cloudy areas that hindered his vision. Due to this birth defect, Chad’s eye drainage system was not formed properly, causing him to develop glaucoma. Years later, his sister Casie was also born with cataracts in both of her eyes.
Chad’s parents instilled an independent spirit in both siblings in order to help them figure out ways to deal with any issues they would face. They constantly reminded their children that everyone had problems but successful people found ways to work through them. They also made their children aware that some people would be quick to use their conditions against them, so they’d have to work harder and smarter to overcome this.
As a testament to the Elledge family emphasis on never giving up, Chad had several surgeries to lower intraocular pressure at a very young age. When the doctor removed his cataracts, the lenses in his eyes were not replaced, so Chad wore glasses with bifocals or contact lenses paired with readers in order to see.
Chad’s condition worsened as he entered college, making it difficult to complete exams in the allotted time, which caused his grades to suffer. Once he realized that it was okay to ask for help, he requested and received an accommodation that provided him extra time on exams. His grades began to improve dramatically, and he graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. He then went on to complete his Masters degree in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University’s Graduate School of Banking, with Honors.
At age 43, Chad lost sight in his right eye as a result of damage over the years. He was reluctant to have surgery, but pathology revealed that there was melanoma on the retina of that eye. He said this was a tough decision but is grateful that he was encouraged by his doctors to undergo surgery.
Nevertheless, Chad has enjoyed a successful banking career and is currently serving as a Senior Vice President overseeing Information Technology and Bank Operations for a bank in East Texas. He is grateful for finding a career that allows him to adjust images and text to see better on a computer screen. He drives during the day and in good weather, but is comfortable asking for help if the weather changes quickly or if it gets too dark.
Chad wants readers to know that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. If he himself had not asked for assistance, his dreams of finishing college, having a family, and landing a successful career might not have become reality. His advice is to examine your long-term goals and always look for ways to work through the hurdles in order to achieve them. Chad is also an advocate for using technology to make life easier—like the e-reader he uses to help with reading or listening to audiobooks. In addition to excellent doctors and the latest technology, Chad credits his faith for guiding him through difficult times. He especially remembers his doctors encouraging him every step of the way to keep going and to never give up.
As a patient at Glaucoma Associates of Texas since age 14, Chad says he may not enjoy going to the doctor, but he loves to see Dr. Smith!
Watch for next month’s Patient InSIGHT where we will share the story of Chad’s sister, Casie.
Chad is willing to talk to anyone who would like to connect with him. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we can put you in touch with Chad.
Read other Patient InSIGHT stories.