Update: Sept 2022
It has been 20 years since I posted. I am 52 now. My eyesight is about 20/350 in each eye. I am grateful that I am not completely blind. I do still get frustrated sometimes trying to read prices or labels, see people’s expressions, or recognize someone in a crowd. I still work at the local school district, now as a computer programmer. Windows has a zoom feature loaded with it, so I no longer use ZoomText. My iPhone is my magnifying glass and telescope now. I get around ok. I can still ride a bicycle, but I have to go slow. I play sand volleyball with my friends every Thursday after work. My kids are 20, 23 and 25. None of them have Stargardt’s as of right now. I appreciate all the enjoyment that life brings, and Stargardt’s is just a part of my existence now.
My name is Richie and I am 32. I live in Texas. I was a 17-year-old junior in high school when I noticed the chalkboard and overhead getting harder to see, and I was having a hard time to see traffic lights. I was diagnosed with Stargardts. My vison went from 20/20 to about 20/200 in a period of about six months. I finished out the year ignoring the situation and took half day my senior year with easy classes.
I went to college and got by without reading anything and just listening to take notes. I had times that I got really frustrated that I just broke down and cried. I graduated somehow with a degree in Advertising. After college I found out what a CCTV was and got one from the Commission for the blind. I also got a copy of ZoomText to enlarge the computer screen. I took some temporary jobs in which I really didn’t do anything but play on the computer. I really got into computers after that.
I married my sweetheart from college and now have three kids under five years old. I stayed home with the first two and took some computer classes. I now have a great job as a computer help desk technician with the local school district.
I can ride a bicycle and I ride the city bus. Seeing the bus numbers is sometimes a pain, but I walk up real close to the bus.
I’ve noticed that my vision has gotten a little worse in the past six or seven years. I rode a motorcycle illegally back in college, but could not ride one now without crashing. I find it hard to distinguish between some colors now, too.
I hate going to a restaurant and not being able to read the menu. I hate when someone is waving at me and I don’t know it. I hate when someone sees my enlarged computer screen and says “What, are you blind?”
But I have support from my wife. And my kids understand that I can’t read to them or play baseball with them. Overall it really sucks and I have many emotional frustrating times, but I learn to live with it. It is good to know others are out there too.