In many ways, 14-year-old Alyssa Lustgarten is similar to countless other students in Dublin City Schools.

In many ways, 14-year-old Alyssa Lustgarten is similar to countless other students in Dublin City Schools.

Like many of her peers, she loves to play sports -- especially softball and basketball and running the hurdles. She also was an A student the past two years at Davis Middle School.

But each time Lustgarten stepped into the batter's box, took a jump shot or ran on the track, she was compensating for a vision problem.

Diagnosed with dislocated lenses at age 5, Lustgarten suffered with the disorder for nine years -- the amount of time it took her mother, Yvonne, to find a corrective treatment.

Yvonne Lustgarten, a sixth-grade teacher at Galloway Ridge Intermediate School in the South-Western City School District, spent hours on the Internet researching dislocated lenses and prominent hospitals across the country.

"The researching is frustrating; you don't know what to put (into the Web searches) after so many years. I put the same thing in thinking something new would pop up," she said.

"Nobody seemed to have a procedure to implant a lens to somebody that doesn't have zonules," she added.

Alyssa Lustgarten didn't have zonules, "which are the glue that holds the lens in place," her mother said.

Without that "glue" the lenses can shift in the eyes, making the condition hard to correct, Yvonne Lustgarten said.

"Even with glasses or contacts she was seeing 20/80. Her best vision was 20/40 with contacts and that was on a good day," Yvonne said.

"I just couldn't see anything from far away at all," Alyssa said. "Sometimes I could get to 20/40 with correction but it just depended on the day. It changed every day, every hour."

It was not until Yvonne Lustgarten started researching clinical trials last October that there was a breakthrough. The Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center e-mailed, suggesting possible links to pursue. From there she found Dr. Robert Cionni at the Cincinnati Eye Institute.

"Dr. Cionni created the 'Cionni Ring,' which is what allowed the implanted lenses to attach to her eye properly," said Alyssa's father, Glenn.

Cionni, who has been performing the procedure for 12 years, developed an artificial ring, called a capsular tension ring, which is surgically attached to the sclera of the eye and acts as the missing zonules, keeping the lens in place.

After a four-hour assessment last December, it was determined Alyssa was a candidate for the procedure. She underwent the surgery in February and the results were instantaneous, her father said.

"She woke up and was able to see the monitors across the room," he said.

"When I was going home, I could see everything. I could see the individual tree branches and squirrels now," Alyssa said.

After everything the family endured, Yvonne Lustgarten wants other people who are affected by the disorder to be aware that a treatment is available.

"I know there are people out there who have this and I would have appreciated just knowing that this was around," she said. "This doctor has done this for 12 years."

Since Alyssa's surgery, Cionni has relocated to Salt Lake City to a clinic specializing in cataract lens replacement. The Cincinnati Eye Institute still performs the Cionni Ring implantation.

Alyssa, who will be a freshman at Scioto High School this fall, received an award at Davis Middle School for participating in cross country, basketball and track in both her seventh- and eighth-grade years while earning a 4.0 grade-point average.

"When we learned about Alyssa's condition, we were told that there was nothing that could be done," her mother said, so she learned to compensate.

"She knew she had to work extra hard to adapt to each kind of sport," her mother said. "She claimed that running hurdles was a great sport, because you didn't need to see each hurdle, you only needed to count your steps."

She also didn't discuss her eye condition. "Alyssa didn't want her coaches knowing about her condition over the years," her mother said. "She wanted to earn everything on her own."

Alyssa already has received follow-up treatment on one of her eyes, and will go back in August for the other. Her vision is nearly perfect.

"As of a few months ago she was seeing 20/30 without correction, but she's still healing," her mother said.