Brandon is enjoying a special time of his young, adult life. He’s 32, married to his college girlfriend and, together, expecting their first child. Both he and his wife are also successfully employed. He’s at Old Orchard in Quality Assurance and his wife is a kindergarten teacher in a nearby school. Together, they have years of life ahead as a young family.
Brandon began losing his sight a few years ago from Stargardt disease, an inherited form of Macular Degeneration that impacts youth and young adults. There is no cure for it, and its progression will worsen. This disease severely inhibits Brandon’s ability to see clearly. As a result, his driving is currently restricted to daytime, to and from his office. With ABVI’s Low Vision clinic and rehabilitation counsel, Brandon was prescribed devices to enhance his weak vision. Special Optic glasses help him with his current driving. He said “these are a miracle of miracles…keeping my hope and faith” alive.
And in West Michigan’s “hopeful and caring style”, Brandon is receiving great support. The Optic Lenses are costly, so the Greenville Lions Club stepped forward and paid for them.
As any young soon-to-be father would be, Brandon was concerned about keeping his full-time employment. Old Orchard has also been a very supportive employer. They offered to adjust his work hours to maximize his daytime commute. And they are paying $2000 for his Bioptic training. Brandon’s job is computer-focused, data work. So they furnished him with a “touch screen” computer for much easier, visual access. This is an expensive computer, but Old Orchard’s President is committed to employee well-being and success. It’s just good business to provide accommodations.
Brandon is an optimistic young man. He actively researches medical and scientific updates on potential improvements to his vision. “I cherish my existing eye sight”. To that end, he had the fortune to meet Dr. Edwin Stone, MD, PhD, at the Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research at the University of Iowa. This is among the top programs of its type in the world.
Brandon is a golfer and still tries to get out with friends. He met Dr. Stone at a golf tournament held in Grand Rapids that funds this particular research program. Dr. Stone invited Brandon and his wife to visit his clinic for a full exam. This summer, they are driving to Iowa with intent that Dr. Stone’s continued learning and research will find success with retinal diseases. As Brandon shared, “I have hope that cures will be developed in my lifetime, to help me and others”.
We live in a great time with medical advances certain to help individuals with vision loss regain some or all of their sight. Meanwhile, Brandon and his wife will continue to live their full and happy lives as a young family.