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How Do You Fight Blindness?

POSTED ON August 31, 2011

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Let’s be honest. Have you ever heard of the Foundation Fighting Blindness? Neither had I. After recognizing that the organization plans and promotes a walk every year to raise money to find blindness, I was not interested in learning more. That was, until last night. Last night, I had the pleasure of attending one of the Indianapolis Vision Walk socials. A few people gathered to share some Donatos and talk about the upcoming fundraiser. Upon meeting the attendees, I was shocked to discover that the ...

Let’s be honest. Have you ever heard of the Foundation Fighting Blindness? Neither had I. After recognizing that the organization plans and promotes a walk every year to raise money to find blindness, I was not interested in learning more. That was, until last night.

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending one of the Indianapolis Vision Walk socials. A few people gathered to share some Donatos and talk about the upcoming fundraiser. Upon meeting the attendees, I was shocked to discover that the members of the foundation sitting next to me weren’t simply optometrists, ophthalmologists or related occupations. These wonderful young people were everyday people suffering from low vision and potential blindness.

To get a little more specific, there was one young girl, who couldn’t have been much older than me in her mid to late 20’s, who suffered from Stargardt’s disease. Despite having worked in an optometrist’s office for more than six years, I had never learned about the disease. Embarrassed, I asked the woman to explain to me what it was. She was very well informed and was happy to explain that Stargardt’s disease, also referred to as juvenile macular degeneration, is the loss of central vision over time.

I was mind blown. This girl, approximately my age, had been suffering from a gradual loss of central vision since her sophomore year of college. Her brother was diagnosed with Stargardt’s before she was. Despite her debilitating handicap, my new-found friend is still able to teach everyday at a local school as a speech therapist.

Upon arriving home that evening, I looked up Stargardt’s disease on AllAboutVision.com. The site explains:

“Stargardt’s generally refers to a group of inherited diseases causing light-sensitive cells in the inner back of the eye (retina) to deteriorate, particularly in the area of the macula where fine focusing occurs. Central vision loss also occurs, while peripheral vision usually is retained.”

I was intrigued by the young lady’s story. She joined the Indianapolis chapter of the Foundation Fighting Blindness to learn more about Stargardt’s disease, fundraise to help find a cure for it, and to meet others that have also been diagnosed. That’s what the Foundation does—they educate the public about the debilitating effects of low vision, the diseases that cause it and how to treat it. They also fundraise to support research in the fight for a cure to blindness. Additionally, it brings people with similar backgrounds together.

After last night’s social, I’m sold. Being blind is no joke. If there’s a way to prevent it, I want to help. I hope you’ll join me in the fight to prevent blindness. Maybe I’ll see you at the 2011 VisionWalk on September 24th. If you’d like to donate to help find a cure, please visit the Team Tavel VisionWalk page.

For more information on the Foundation Fighting Blindness, click here.

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