News

Before I Go Blind

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Jan 31, 2015

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
Zig Ziglar

Most of the time, I take my eyesight for granted. Over the years I hardly think about what it must be like to be blind. The people and things I see today I expect to see again tomorrow. I consider my biennial visit to the optometrist with an occasional update for my glasses as routine.

But that perspective changed when I heard about Ben Pierce. Ben was born in 2005, the third of six children, at just 23 weeks and weighed just 1 pound, 6 ounces. His odds for survival were small. But against all odds, he did survive. In fact, he thrived. 

Today he is perfectly normal except for his eyes. Although he had laser surgery in the neonatal intensive care unit to save his retinas from detaching, now as he continues to grow, his eyesight continues to deteriorate. He has already begun to use magnifiers to read. 

Recently, he and his parents (Kit and Heidi) along with his siblings (Christopher, 12; Moira, 11; Emiline, 7; Joseph, 5; and Olivia, 3) have been told the crushing news that he is already in the “legally blind” stage. To prepare for his future, he has started learning Braille and how to use a walking stick because, though the doctors know he will go blind, it is impossible for them to know when that will happen. 

But what I found remarkable about this 9-year-old boy and his family is their commitment to help him see as much of the world as possible before he goes blind. 

His mother wrote on her blog, “One of his therapists explained that as he gets older it will be easier for him to describe things and interact with a sighted world if he has memories of things like snow, she said or the ocean or a mountain. And, of course beyond the practical logistics of it, we wanted to help Ben have the emotional experience of witnessing this wild and wonderful world.”  

Here are a few things on Ben’s Vision Wish List: the Golden Gate Bridge and the Redwood Forest; Las Vegas; Germany where his mom was born; snorkeling; a Weird Al concert; The Great Wall of China; the Sistine Chapel; Mount Rushmore; the Roman Colosseum. Ben’s list goes on and on.

His family acknowledges that some of these things may not be practical, but they all want Ben to see as many of them as possible. The entire Pierce family loves post cards from people’s hometowns or vacations ‚Äčthat they all can see, especially Ben. If you would like to send them one, his address is: Ben’s Wish List, c/o Hobby – Q, PO Box 2107, Lake Dallas, TX 75065-2107. 

Which brings me to this question: If I were losing my eyesight, what are the things I would want to see before I went blind? What are the things I am looking at today which are common and routine but, if I knew I would never see them again, would I look at them differently? 

We all know that insight is more important than eyesight because without insight we will see very little even though we may have perfect eyesight.

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of  
University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville, Pa. 
Responses can be mailed to president@valleyforge.edu 
Official page: Facebook.com/DrDonMeyer
Follow on Twitter: @DrDonMeyer
Archives at www.valleyforge.edu/thinkaboutit