OCT 2012

EyeWorld is the official news magazine of the American Society of Cataract & Refractive Surgery.

Issue link: https://digital.eyeworld.org/i/87458

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Page 157 of 168

from receiving proper diagnoses earlier as well as researchers finding causes and cures. Realizing she began suffering from RP at 8 years old, Ms. Harris recalls her family simply calling her clumsy—and every vision test given to her as a child in the 1940s came back as "20/20" vision. Her deterio- rating vision altered her from an outgoing child to an almost-recluse as a teenager. (One major goal of RP International is to ensure all children receive peripheral vision screening as well as Snellen acuity to ensure a misdiagnosis of RP does not occur.) "As founder of RP International, I've become aware of many misdiag- nosed cases with even worse conse- quences. Undiagnosed retinal disease sufferers have fallen victim to acci- dents that could have been prevent- ed, such as being hit by cars, falling, getting lost, and wandering into dangerous situations," she writes. At the time, physicians were mistakenly diagnosing RP as strokes or brain tumors, she said. A difficult youth A good deal of Ms. Harris' memoirs are dedicated to her struggle to overcome the stereotype of the white cane—a sure sign she was blind, and while she had "vision problems," she refused for years to accept that she was legally blind and had virtually no ability to function on her own. After all, vision tests continued to prove she was 20/20. When she finally does accept her need for a white cane, she lets readers know it's not intuitive—users need about 200 hours of "intensive training" before they can safely handle themselves in various situations. "If this book does nothing else but reach one person who succeeds in learning mobility skills and using them despite the problems, it will have been a success," she writes. Ms. Harris is a gifted storyteller, eloquently describing her initial resistance to both the white cane and her mobility specialist (again, these were the days before low vision aids were available). She jokingly refers to her age-related macular degeneration counterparts as her other half—as she lost all peripheral vision due to RP, her AMD friends had lost all their central vision. Once the reader understands the incredible obstacles Ms. Harris faced—being the first person with absolutely no business acumen or previous fundraising experience to continued on page 26 Take Your Practice to the Next Level BY ADDING A HEARING CARE CLINIC Vision and Hearing - Dual Sensory Treatment • Sustainable Business with High Profit Potential Created for Eyecare Professionals by Hearing Professionals Experts in Hearing Care with 240 Locations Nationwide For More Information Call Today! Avada Hearing Care 1-888-982-8232 Partnering Vision & Hearing www.avada.com © 2012 Hearing Healthcare Management, Inc.

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