When We Connect We Are Stronger
This past weekend the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind (PCB) was an exhibitor at the Pittsburgh Vision Seminar. The seminar, hosted by the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) reminded me once again of how lonely sight loss can be. When we connect we are stronger because losing one’s eyesight can be a lonely experience but it can be different.
The first person I met was so upset over her sister’s sight loss to diabetic retinopathy I thought she might break down. When I asked her if her sister was given a referral to low vision rehabilitation I wasn’t surprised when she told me no. This conversation set the tone as we spoke with many people and family members of those new to sight loss.
It’s Helpful to Know You Aren’t Alone
While those attending these events are looking for a cure to their inherited retinal disease I think it’s equally important to adapt. For this reason, I am so glad several of the exhibitors were blind or visually impaired. This was an opportunity for a vital connection between sighted and non-sighted communities. My friend Diane Krek, who was recently featured in one of our local newspapers, was there with her beautiful paintings. Then there was my friend Christine and I who represented PCB.
When I lost my sight it was my friends at PCB and our local chapter who helped me get through it. So Saturday was my chance to give back by letting people see us in action. It’s so gratifying being in a position of helping people understand they are not alone in their sight loss journey and assure them that life goes on.
Giving people a few simple tools like 20/20 pens and check writing guides along with other resources enlightened them. Advising others of our local PCB affiliate in Pittsburgh gave them the opportunity to join our peer network.
Gene Therapy & Latest News
While I couldn’t stay for the entire seminar, the speakers I heard were awesome. Dr. Leah Byrne, Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh and Ben Shaberman, Senior Director of Communications, FFB shed light on the latest research. Another interesting tidbit of information was the My Retina Tracker Registry. The voluntary registry is designed to help accelerate the discovery of treatments and cures for those with inherited retinal diseases.
When We connect Featured Image Description:
A photo collage of images from the event. Left to right, the first photo is a blue and white FFB vertical banner. The only text I can read is Foundation Fighting Blindness and their website address. The second photo (top right) is the jam-packed hotel meeting room filled with people sitting at round tables. There is a big screen at the far right of the room where they shared a PowerPoint presentation. The third photo is the FFB registration table just outside if the meeting room.