Don G.
Tipton, IN

Stargardt’s Disease

My name is Don and the following is my experience with Juvenile Macular Degeneration. When I was in 6th grade I started experiencing a problem seeing the chalkboard. I would hurry to class so to be able to sit as close as possible to the board. Not only seeing the chalkboard but also doing homework. I would have to use my stepfather’s magnifying glass that he used to repair jewelry to do my homework.

Finally my mother took me to an eye doctor and after the examination the doctor took my mom into an office in which I could hear her say “No” as the doctor told her I would be blind in one year.  After two or more opinions the disease was more clearly diagnosed. By high school I was legally blind with the vision of 20/200.

Playing sports, keeping up with other teens was pretty much impossible. But, I would try to find ways by pushing myself to become equal with others without them knowing I had a visual problem. Peer pressure is pretty tough for a guy in high school and getting ready to face the world.

After high school I had a great opportunity to get into residential construction as a helper. Fast foods, cash registers, monitors, etc became impossible tasks to see, construction is something that worked for me.

A little history on my family it seems that Juvenile Macular Dystrophy seems to hit the brown-eyed members. My grandmother, my father, and now my daughter who is 25 years old all have this eye disease. It is to my deep sadness that my daughter will be experiencing these same problems. So far she is not as advanced, With help from the Low Vision Centers, hopefully there will be new information and technology to help her generation.

Growing up I never had a valid drivers license. As an adult, sitting down talking to my wife we decided to see if any new information could be obtained. We looked in the yellow pages and found the Indiana Eye Institution. From there they directed us to Dr. Richard Windsor of the Low Vision Centers of Indiana.

Our first visit with Dr. Windsor he applied to my eyes the Ocutech system and right away I could read the eye chart. No pun intended I could not believe my eyes and when the doctor stepped away the emotions I felt were overwhelming. To actually be able to see the chart meant I could direct my goals for a legal drivers license. Yes!

First step was to be fitted with the Ocutech, then begin driving class with a state approved driver’s trainer. The trainer I had was from Warsaw, Indiana and he was definitely a step in the right direction. The trainer is a very important part of this process as he would drive to my home town and teach me how to use the Ocutech behind-the-wheel of a vehicle driving all over Indiana. This is very important process and you will need to make sure to absorb all the knowledge and information that is possible. The trainer had many positive points to succeed in driving. After training a letter would be sent to the BMV stating your progress. Stay positive as every step takes time, but note that the outcome will be good.

The experience with the Low Vision Centers of Indiana had definitely been a great addition to my life. They have much knowledge, and are always excited to see your progress. The Low Vision Centers of Indiana doctors, assistants, and every employee gives 100% of their support, knowledge, and concern for my well being and my family. They have changed the direction of my life.

I have been able to do daytime driving. Driving safe and legally gives me  great peace of mind. Remember that to succeed as any kind of driver you must be aware of your surroundings and drive safely.

Thanks so much to the Low Vision Centers of Indiana, and I hope that I can continue to be successful with my vision updates, testing and new information being found everyday.