Although low vision is most common for those over age 65, it can affect anyone at any age as it did for Daniel Wilson when he was just 23.
In 2006, Daniel was working for a local termite company, living independently and enjoying life as a young adult. One day while driving between job locations he rubbed his eye and experienced cloudy vision. Sensing something wasn’t right, he visited his optometrist who, after examining him and not finding a reason for the clouded vision referred him to a specialist. The ophthalmologist conducted a more in-depth exam and again finding no reason for the cloudy vision suggested an MRI, which identified a tumor on Daniel’s pituitary gland.
The pituitary gland is pea-sized and located behind the bridge of the nose and below the base of the brain, close to the optic nerves. The most common problem that arises with the pituitary gland is the development of a tumor, typically benign. Daniel’s tumor was benign but grew as though cancerous. Over the course of the next five years he underwent four surgeries, radiation and chemo therapy. During this time, the growth of the tumor caused permanent damage to his optic nerve and at age 28, Daniel was classified as legally blind. In hopes of stopping the tumor growth, he enrolled in a clinical trial which was testing a new medication to control the growth of his type of tumor. It worked!
Now that he was experiencing stability with his medical condition, Daniel was ready to better address his vision loss and get on with life. Looking for support and services, he contacted BVIC where he found warm and knowledgeable staff who provided skills training, education, support and social interaction. Daniel began learning braille, received basic living skills education, orientation and mobility (O&M) training, attended peer support group and art class, and tested a variety of assistive devices.
“When you are told you are legally blind you feel lost. You don’t know what to do or where to go. Having access to a place like BVIC with people to point you in the right direction is a truly a life saver.”
BVIC connected Daniel with the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) and the Orientation Center for the Blind (OCB). Located in Albany, Ca., OCB assists adults in adjusting to new vision disabilities through an immersion in a residential environment which is respectful, knowledgeable and empowering. During the nine months Daniel lived at OCB, he attended life skill classes where he learned a wide variety of skills including organizing, cooking, and sewing. He improved his O&M and braille skills and began thinking about his next steps.
Daniel returned home to live with his family and worked with DOR staff to set goals toward returning to school. During 2015, Daniel moved into his own apartment and utilized the skills he learned to live independently. A few months later, he began volunteering at BVIC’s front desk as a way to learn practical office skills, but more importantly to give back to the center who gave him hope for his future. Today, ten years after beginning his vision loss journey, Daniel continues to improve his technology and other skills while considering possible employment options. And he continues to volunteer Wednesday mornings at BVIC’s front desk!