VA giving veterans a new look at life by combating low vision

Helping veterans with low vision
Posted at 11:20 PM, Jun 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-26 08:10:44-04

BALTIMORE — More and more people are being diagnosed with low vision, including our veteran population. To help with this, the VA Maryland Health Care System is helping more than 600 veterans be independent.

It started as headaches for United States Marine Corps Veteran William Tweed.

A stroke took away most of his vision, and with it, his independence.

“I closed up a little bit and just stayed in the house, stayed in the room, didn’t do to much,” said Tweed. “I started coming here and getting these tools.”

Tweed never lost his positive outlook, but the VA helped bring back his quality of life.

“I go outside, I can mow the grass, I do the cooking, help out around the house,” Tweed said.

A stroke, glaucoma, cataracts – these are some of the common things that cause vision loss.

Optometrist Dr. Olga Whitman and the team at the VA help the veterans identify how they want to live.

“We’ll come up with a game plan in terms of what kind devices we are going to employ,” said Whitman. “All of our vision rehabilitation is very goal oriented; you tell us what’s not working, and we’ll try to figure out a way to fix it.”

Paying bills, walking down the aisle at the grocery store, these tasks are no longer daunting thanks to the training and technology.

“Walking in traffic, crossing streets listening for lights and all,” said Veteran Antoine Hairston. “Through there they sent me through school; now I take computer classes through the VA.”

Everything from cooking to ordering an Uber opened back up to veterans who had been closed off because of their vision loss.

“We are very fortunate to get the cutting edge of a lot of this technology that will help us not feel sorry for what we don’t have, but actually magnify and enhance things that we can could do,” Veteran Harvey Guary said.