About 16 years ago, John was told by his ophthalmologist that he would lose his vision to a condition called Stargardt’s disease, an inherited disorder of the retina that causes a loss of central vision, or macular degeneration, often during childhood or adolescence. In the last few years in particular, his vision has deteriorated significantly.
John learned about the Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington® (POB) and its Stargardt’s Network through an acquaintance who was also struggling with the disorder, and he began attending the monthly support group meetings. He says that each time he attends, he not only walks away with information about useful tools and resources for individuals with low vision, but he walks away motivated to face the challenges of his vision loss head-on.
“My involvement has helped me stay motivated to not get down, to stay positive, and to learn what other tools are out there. … I learn something every month. I walk away, I come home, and I tell my wife, ‘I feel so much better because I learned this,’ and it’s uplifting.”
Perhaps you also know what it is like to face vision loss – to have challenges with daily tasks such as reading the mail, shopping, cooking and writing. Or perhaps you have a loved one who is living with low vision as a result of macular degeneration, glaucoma or another common eye disease. Maybe you can only imagine what it would be like to lose your sight and how that would affect your life and your independence.
Staff and volunteers at POB work not only to prevent the needless loss of sight, but to empower those with vision loss to make the most of what sight they have. They help members of the community cope with vision loss through monthly support and resource share groups, and retain their independence through personalized vision rehabilitation at the Low Vision Learning Center. This support is invaluable to so many who may otherwise feel helpless in the face of vision loss.
In the next 15 years, as the baby boomer population ages, the number of Americans living with low vision is expected to increase by 72 percent – from 2.9 million to almost 5 million people. The need for these services is greater than ever and growing.
As POB moves into its 80th year serving this community, you can support local vision programs so that more individuals like John can find help in the face of vision loss, and so that thousands of others can benefit from POB’s free vision screenings and eye exams, receive affordable eyeglasses, and take advantage of our many sight-saving services.
Give the gift of sight this holiday season! Please consider making a donation online at youreyes.org/donate.