Jackie S.
Myopic Degeneration

Richmond, Indiana

When I was 51 years old I noticed that the vision in my right eye was very blurry and thought I needed to get my glasses changed. My optometrist sent me to an eye specialist at IU Hospital who said I was legally blind in that eye and there was nothing that could be done. He also said that I might also lose the vision in my left eye as I aged. I thought that meant when I was “old” so I didn’t worry about it.
I enrolled in seminary and was in my third semester of eight when my “good” eye began to fail. On Friday I noticed I could not read the billboards on the Interstate. On Sunday I got lost in Cincinnati because I could not read the street signs. And by Wednesday I could no longer read my textbooks. One day on my way to school I approached a busy intersection in town and realized I couldn’t tell the color of the traffic light—it terrified me and I realized I had to stop driving. My optometrist sent me to a specialist who said nothing could be done for this eye either.
Thankfully, a counselor at the Independent Living Center helped me get connected with Vocational Rehabilitation who sent me to Dr. Richard Windsor for an assessment. He recommended a CCTV to help me read my textbooks, a portable magnifier, specialized reading glasses, and bi-optic glasses for driving.
Although the other vision aids were helping me to continue doing all the things I loved and wanted to do, I could not imagine being able to drive safely with my low vision so for a year and a half I dragged my feet about setting up the appointment with the bi-optic driver’s ed. trainer. Finally, though, I completed grad school and realized my vocational options would be much greater if I could once again drive. So I started the lessons. My instructor took me, a small town woman, to Indianapolis where she had me drive at rush hour, in school zones and construction areas and seemingly on every traffic circle and roundabout in the entire urban area. By the time she finished with me, I realized it really was possible to drive safely under all conditions with low vision. What a revelation and a relief!
I passed my driving test with flying colors and went on to get two jobs that required a lot of travel. I am a pastor and also lead workshops and retreats all around the state and the US. Today I drive thousands of miles every year for my work, often to unfamiliar cities and even to out of the way little rural churches. My bi-optic glasses not only help me with the driving but also with reading signs and flight monitors in airports and to see the faces of my congregation when I preach. They make it possible for me to work on the computer easily, to read signs and labels in the grocery store, and do many other things that would otherwise be extremely difficult for a low vision person. They have changed my life for the better. I hope they might be able to do the same for you!