Home Newsmakers WNBA All-Star Gives Back Through EssilorLuxottica Foundation Connection

WNBA All-Star Gives Back Through EssilorLuxottica Foundation Connection

DeShields plays for the Chicago Sky in Oakley
DeShields plays for the Chicago Sky in Oakley

Diamond DeShields’ path to becoming a WNBA All-Star was an unlikely one. She received her first pair of eyeglasses at 14, after being diagnosed with keratoconus—something that came as a shock to her, as “no one in my family wore glasses other than my grandma.”

“You don’t know that you can’t see when you’ve never seen before,” DeShields says. “The first day I got my glasses, I was looking at the leaves on trees and blades of grass. It was an emotional day. I had been missing out.” However, through her partnerships with EssilorLuxottica and Oakley, “my ailment that I once saw as a setback is now my superpower.” The shooting guard for the Chicago Sky took to the stage to talk to Vision Source® members at The Exchange® to discuss her partnership with Oakley and EssilorLuxottica.

FINDING THE FIT

As a young athlete, she started wearing prescription ophthalmic lenses on the court, which she says was an “uphill battle. All the lenses I tried were refracting light—I saw a serious glare.” In the days before corneal crosslinking was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, she opted to play without eyeglasses—essentially blind—through college.

After receiving corneal crosslinking in both eyes and signing to her first professional team, DeShields was in gas permeable lenses with no protective coverage. After she got hit by an elbow on the court, shattering her lens in her eye, “I had to figure out how to see and also be protected,” she says.

DeShields in Oakley.pc: Instagram @diamonddoesit1
DeShields in Oakley. Instagram @diamonddoesit1

“I consider myself fashionable with a significant amount of swag, but I couldn’t find protective eyewear that was sexy.” So she walked into the Oakley store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago and tried on almost every pair the store had. “I was testing them out, running and jumping around the store.” She found one pair she loved for the court—Radar EV Path frames– and brought them to the counter to check out.

“I saw a OneSight Foundation microfiber towel on the counter; I wanted to make connections and start a foundation but didn’t know where to start.” She and manager Sami Berk did their research and set a meeting with Oakley representatives. “It was a match made in heaven,” says DeShields, now a Team Oakley athlete.

ACCESS ABOVE EVERYTHING

Now she’s using her platform to ensure that children get the eye care they need. “So many kids don’t have access to eye care or cannot afford it. That’s a big reason why I’m here—access above everything.”

Diamond in Oakley. Instagram @diamonddoesit1
Diamond in Oakley. Instagram @diamonddoesit1

“Being told your corneas are irregular and that you have a degenerative disease at 14 is wild to experience,” she says. “Now I have kids come up to me and say that I made wearing glasses cool,” she says.

DeShields is currently working on her 3-D Foundation which will aim to bring eye care awareness and access to communities in need. While still in its infancy, the foundation has already held three eye clinics in 2023—two in Chicago and one in Dallas—and has two planned for 2024 in Chicago and Atlanta.

These clinics are often emotional for DeShields, she says. She recalls meeting a child in Chicago whose house burnt down, resulting in him being homeless and without his eyeglasses. “These clinics do way more for me than they do for the kids,” she says. “They are my favorite days of the year.”

She is often reminded of her own story when she sees her fans in the crowd. “I love kids, but kids with glasses hold a special place in my heart,” she says. “I live my life in Oakleys, and to be one of the faces they choose to support is so empowering. We have a perfect synergy, and with EssilorLuxottica, my reach only continues to expand.”

 

Read more newsmaker stories from WO here.

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