A legacy of sight

Jenny Turnbull has always had a passion for helping others in need. A glaucoma diagnosis almost 30 years ago inspired her vision to leave a lasting legacy.


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In her own words, Jenny Turnbull has a “blessed life” and she isn’t letting glaucoma get in the way of that.

Fortunately, her glaucoma was diagnosed early and treatment has slowed progress of the condition but, for many people, this isn’t the case.

That’s why Jenny has chosen to leave a gift to CERA in her will – to help transform the diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases in the future.

“I’m very grateful for the life I’ve had from birth till the present day – and happy to leave a legacy that might benefit future generations,” Jenny says.

Early life

Born in East Malvern, Jenny grew up in a happy household in Oakleigh with her mother, father, sister and two brothers.

“We had many happy holidays and day trips in our little Austin 7 – a matchbox on wheels,” Jenny says.

After completing her teaching certificate, aged 18, Jenny was the first in her family to leave home and worked in the country for a few years.

“I was posted to Marino – a far-flung country town in the western district,” she says.

After travelling around Europe and the UK for 12 months, Jenny arrived back in Melbourne in 1961, where she worked as a vocational counsellor.

“I really enjoyed helping people get back into the workforce, and I continued to work in rehabilitation until I retired,” she says.

Lasting legacy: Jenny says she has had a blessed life.
Diagnosis no barrier

Jenny’s mother was diagnosed with glaucoma in the 1960s, but Jenny didn’t quite understand the significance of this until a visit to the optometrist in 1994 led to her own diagnosis.

Not long after, Jenny began donating to CERA.

“I had benefited from having a very good specialist and, because glaucoma’s hereditary, I thought family could get it in the future, and I could give something towards research,” says Jenny.

Now 85, Jenny’s glaucoma has progressed, and needs to be monitored, but it certainly hasn’t stopped her from doing what she loves.

“I enjoy theatre, I love being down at the beach and just being able to appreciate things through sight,” Jenny says.

Never a dull moment

After charting her own path for many years, Jenny now shares a home with her friend Janet.

Since meeting Janet 44 years ago, her life has become busier than ever.

“If anything comes up, there’s two of you to do it – like volunteering at the Sydney Olympics and the Melbourne Commonwealth Games,” says Jenny.

Or playing her beloved tennis with friends.

“Janet and I enjoy playing socially without the pressure of having to win that point,” she says.

A lasting legacy

The two often attend CERA’s community forums to get the latest updates from researchers on glaucoma and other eye conditions.

“I think CERA is an excellent organisation: they’re transparent and keep you informed about their work – it’s exciting how quickly they’re moving with things.”

Jenny and Janet recently made a joint decision to update their wills and leave a gift to advance eye research.

“Any donation, small or large, will be very much welcome because what they discover through research will help a lot of people,” Jenny says.

“If I can make some small contribution, I’m helping future generations.”

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