At the age of 25, my lifelong battle against a rare, genetic and brutally painful eye disease finally took its toll and rendered me almost legally blind. My young son, who was just a year old at the time, was also experiencing episodic bouts of pain and severe sensitivity to light which meant he too had inherited the dreaded disease. Each erosion or, scratch across our corneas, occurred for any number of reasons; simply upon opening our eyes from sleep, or a wisp of hair across the eye, or for no known reason at all. Each erosion caused a lattice work pattern of abrasions to appear across the surface of the eye. Each and every time my infant son or I experienced an erosion, we were confined to bed. The extreme photophobias meant those days in bed were spent in utter darkness. Not a candle, not the flicker of a television, not a ray of sunlight could be tolerated. My son was so young that scarring of his cornea had not yet become a concern. The horror of the pain in someone so young? Yes. Blindness not yet. For me though, the recurrent corneal erosions and central corneal clouding had finally disabled me.
I had no insurance, could not allow myself to continue to drive, correcting my vision with glasses was not a reality and faking it at work was out of the question. Between his bouts and mine it was pretty hard to hold down a job for long. On good days when I could see it was a challenge. Without vision at least some of the time, we were done for. I was alone and I was scared. I knew I needed a cornea transplant. My Mother had one with moderate success and an Aunt and Grandfather had also been helped by the operation to some degree. Because I had been dealing with my disease, I mean just living with it and all its consequences as a part of my reality since birth, missing school, losing jobs, learning how to handle pain I did with no doctor I could call on. Continue reading
Richard’s situation is similar to the majority of hearing clients we see at the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse Foundation Hearing Program serves Georgians of all ages; however, most are retired or disabled and living on a fixed income of Social Security and perhaps a little pension. The copayment Richard paid for his hearing aids did not just simply cover the aids themselves; that $170 paid for two custom digital in-the-ear hearing aids, a three year service warranty on those aids, and 4 visits to a Lighthouse partner hearing provider. The application process is simple and the process time takes just a few short weeks. The application and list of required supporting documents can be found on our website www.lionlighthouse.org or by calling 404-325-3630 (or 800-718-7483 outside of the metro Atlanta area).
Thanksgiving is so close, we can almost taste the pumkin pie! But before you start to panic about all of the thanksgiving induced gluttony you might partake in, look at these delicious (and even some thanksgiving!) foods that you can incorporate into your diet for healthier eyes and ears.
Working at the Lighthouse restores my belief in the best in people on a daily basis. I have been with the Lighthouse for over a year now; I started as an AmeriCorps service member in the vision clinic and I was recently became the hearing services program manager. I don’t think that I ever lost my belief in humanity or the goodness of people – I’ve pretty much always believed that people are intrinsically good and want to do good – but working at the Lighthouse really does give me daily reminders of that goodness.
The clients themselves remind me of this. While I don’t get to meet face-to-face with the hearing clients like I did with the vision clients, I do speak with them on the phone and get to know them and their stories. The majority of the hearing patients are retired and on fixed incomes, though we also serve Georgians under 21 years of age. These are good, grateful people who become part of the Lighthouse family.
Client families and friends also impact me. They can be amazingly strong advocates for their mothers, fathers, friends, aunts, uncles, children, and grandparents. Their persistence reminds me of what a little bit done by one person can do. I hope someone would be just as persistent on my behalf if I needed it, and I hope I can be that kind of advocate for someone else.
And last – but most definitely not least – are our partner hearing professionals. These caring individuals go above and beyond to care for Lighthouse patients. One of our audiologists in the metro Atlanta area expanded her work hours to accommodate more Lighthouse patients. Another of our hearing professionals refuses his reimbursement fee; he asks that it simply go back into the budget to help more people receive hearing services. Time and time and time again when I call upon this group of trained individuals, I find generous souls who gladly accept patients fully knowing the level of reimbursement they will receive for their services.
Among the difficult parts of life, I find examples of goodness everywhere I go – and especially at the Lighthouse. I am proud to be part of an organization whose mission is to increase the independence and quality of life for each person we see. And I am even prouder of the wonderful people who come to us, either as patients or as partners.
– Anna Knippel, Hearing Services Program Manager
The Lighthouse finally has a blog! We are a non profit providing vision and hearing health care to underinsured Georgians. Every year, we serve over 6,000 Georgia residents of all ages, providing them with sight and sound so they can lead happy, healthy and productive lives.