October is Blindness Awareness Month which educates the public about both the diseases that cause blindness and the enormous capacity of those who suffer vision loss or total blindness themselves.
The cultural conception of blindness is much different from its reality. “Blindness” is often presented as a completely incapacitating disability of total vision loss. In reality, many people suffering from vision loss live fulfilling, joyful lives and suffer degrees of vision loss, not total blindness. Children who are partially blind or suffer vision loss are particularly inspiring examples of how capable they can be.
Lola is one such example. She was less than a year old when she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma. While chemotherapy shrunk the tumor in her left eye, it left her with very little vision and limited depth perception. Now eleven years old, Lola plays the ukulele and runs 5k and 10k races with her father.
Tristan is another similar story of resilience. He was diagnosed with Coats’ Disease at age 12 and is legally blind in his left eye. Yet as a sophomore in high school he is playing varsity baseball and football.
“Blindness” does not affect all people the same way and does not progress the same way in every case.
Children are often affected with a progressive blindness that can be halted or corrected with treatment. Diseases and conditions such as Coats’ Disease, amblyopia, and retinoblastoma can cause serious vision impairment or total blindness if not caught and treated.
This month, pay particular attention to your children and the photos you take of them.
If you notice “the Glow”, a yellow, opaque or yellow/white reflection in your child’s eyes, make an immediate appointment with a pediatrician. While children who suffer from blindness or visual impairment live fulfilling, joyful lives, let’s do our best to protect our children’s eyesight.
In October, we also celebrate World Sight Day which falls on October 11th this year.
This day is to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness chose the theme of this year’s campaign, “Eyecare Everywhere”. It’s goal is to make sure that eyecare is available everywhere, no matter the socioeconomic level.
This can be true even in your hometown. Many states cover vision screenings for children under 19 and local organizations often offer free or reduced tests for children as well. A quick Google search often reveals the local resources available to care for your children’s eyes.
This month of awareness and advocacy is the perfect time to check-in with your kids and to make sure they have the opportunities to thrive and grow with their eyesight.