The parents of a 13-year-old boy were forced to pay thousands of dollars for eye surgery or wait until their son was legally blind before the public health-care system would help him.

“It doesn’t make sense. Why would you knowingly let someone suffer like that?” the boy’s mother, Krystal Tanner, told Go Public from her home in Rockland, just outside Ottawa.

Her son, Balin Vergunst, suffers from the progressive eye disease keratoconus. It causes the normally round cornea to thin and bulge into a cone-like shape leading to serious vision problems. As his condition worsened, Vergunst had to give up sports and struggled in school.

“It was hard to play hockey because I couldn’t see the puck, and it’s hard to chase after something that isn’t there,” he said.

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