Nicknamed “million-dollar eyes,” Bianca Beach is partially blind, and currently fighting against time creating art to increase awareness and help save the vision of millions affected by glaucoma. Determined to shed light on the disease, Bianca was awarded a grant from her alma mater, Chapman University, to produce and star in a one-woman stage show titled “Tunnel Vision,” which chronicles Bianca’s story as she navigates themes of medical trauma, coming of age, perseverance, and advocating for a cure.
By the age of 11, Bianca had been through 6 surgeries and was on over 28 eye drops per day. She had suffered a retinal detachment in both eyes, which sadly was a fate her family had known all too well. Bianca’s father and grandfather, and several aunts and uncles had also suffered from retinal detachments and were at greater risk of developing glaucoma. Bianca and her family spent one summer with shades drawn in their home to avoid the pain of the sunlight shining through while on daily drops to dilate her eyes. Bianca spent much of her childhood fighting for her sight not knowing the path her journey would take.
Throughout the difficult moments growing up, Bianca insisted on not letting her health issues define her. She was in her final year at Chapman University studying theater when she decided to use her struggle with glaucoma as a form of expression. “Theater is about human connection and creating something people can relate to. I feel empowered being able to take my medical trauma and have it all culminate in using it as a positive narrative. My hope is for young girls to see me owning who I am and feel inspired by that.”
Today, Bianca is also pushing boundaries by becoming a Pilates instructor. Due to her many procedures as a child, she was forced to be immobile much of the time to avoid further trauma to her eyes. Her physical therapist recommended Pilates as a form of building strength. “I can do things now that 3 years ago would have caused strain on my eyes. I’ve built the muscle for it. It’s interesting when we look at exercise and say, ‘she shouldn’t try that.’ I would argue you can by building up the muscles in your body incrementally.”
Thankfully, Bianca’s vision is currently stable, and she is down to 5 drops per day. Her doctors are encouraged by her progress and do not anticipate further intervention in the near future. Her trailer film for “Tunnel Vision” has been well received and she is currently working with a team to gain a larger audience with a streaming service. You can learn more about Bianca and watch “Tunnel Vision” on her website at thebiancabeach.com.
Bianca’s story, and the stories of all patients, inspires Glaucoma Research Foundation to continue our important work to cure glaucoma and restore vision through innovative research.
Posted on March 21, 2023.