When Johnson Beamon began having vision issues at age 17—not seeing very clearly, bumping into floor signs at the grocery store, struggling to drive at night—his mother took him to an ophthalmologist.
The diagnosis was retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a group of related eye disorders that cause progressive vision loss. And three different doctors all delivered the same news: he had three to six months of vision remaining so he should do and see all the things he wanted before his vision was gone for good.
Johnson was devastated. He fell into a deep state of despair, feeling there was no hope. Without vision, he felt life had nothing to offer.
But when the six-month mark arrived and he still had vision, it gave him pause. He felt a slight glimmer of hope, so he continued to move forward, living as though nothing had changed.
Over the years, Johnson’s eye disease progressed. Although he was able to work and get around, his family and friends recognized that he needed to get help and learn different ways of coping. Johnson’s brother, a U.S. postal worker who delivered Vision Forward’s mail for a time, encouraged Johnson to schedule an appointment for services.
Johnson reluctantly called Vision Forward and got connected with our social worker, Erica Weise, who invited him to participate in a group session. But Johnson never showed up.
When Johnson called again a year later, he was finally ready . . . ready to continue preparing himself for the day when his eyesight would be completely gone. He enrolled in all our adult services programs to take advantage of his remaining sight. He learned to navigate safely with a white mobility cane, use technology and other assistive aids, read braille, and access support from others.
Although it took more than 25 years to secure the help he really needed, Johnson is now on the way to achieving his dream of a career in counseling and social work. His goal is to work in the field of vision loss and use his own experience with RP to help others navigate their individual journeys.
Johnson has a message for others experiencing vision loss:
Just because you have a disability, that does not mean the end of life. It might be the beginning of something brighter. Don’t give up—there’s an abundance of life left to live!Johnson Beaman, Vision Forward Client
Thank you for investing in Johnson and others living with vision loss.
Together, with your support, we can positively change the present and future of people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired.