E-mail me, call me, PM me, I'm all ears. Together, we shoot for the moon. If we miss, we still land among the stars.
This month I came across a new book written by Ken Brandt. A lighthearted short read, it gave me a different perspective of life with low vision and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to know how their patients might perceive the world through less than perfect optics. Mr. Brandt, although he doesn’t explicitly say so, appears to suffer from the consequences of retinopathy of prematurity, including degenerative myopia, strabismus, retinal detachments, and cataracts.
Born in 1954, he was kept in an oxygen tent at UPMC in Philadelphia. Since the technology to monitor or regulate oxygen did not exist, and a fundus examination of preterm infants was not routinely performed, the results were the typical retrolentalfibroplasia seen in cases where uncontrolled oxygen is delivered to the pre-term infant. The rate of ROP in most prematureinfants has decreased significantly in developed countries over the past few decades due to better care in NICU, however, as more premies are now able to survive, these very tiny babies are at the highest risk for ROP. But let’s return to Ken Brandt, who hasn’t researched the precise causes of his vision loss, but is simply happy and grateful to rely on his optometrist’s andophthalmologist’s guidance. This book is not about ROP, it is not about loss, it is not about disadvantage. Rather, it is about finding silver linings and seeing the bright side of each situation because clarity and acuity are never simply a function of sharp vision.
Available on Amazon
by Ken Brandt (Author)
Elzy Kolb (Editor)
Judy Roberts Brandt (Designer)
Captain of his university’s parachuting team, Ken describes being excited about his new-found, thrilling hobby, only to meet with the disappointing pronouncement of his eye doctor, namely, that his detached retinas would not bear further assault from this turbulent amusement. Undaunted, he packs away the skills he has learned and tries his hand at metalworking at the tops of Manhattan skyscrapers. Two jobs in and his supervisor requests a letter from his eye doctor certifying his vision is adequate for working in construction. Once again, his eye doctor disagrees. What I very much enjoyed about this book was that every time I was ready to feel sorry for the man and ashamed of my profession for constantly limiting his choices, he surprised me with his bright and cheery outlook. Instead of lamenting the curtailing of a career he clearly enjoyed, he says, “maybe the eye doctor was right- maybe I avoided some injuries and prolonged my life by having to choose another line of work.” I’ve often felt sad watching someone with low
fumble with elevator buttons but no more - according to Ken, “a lot of poor-vision people are great walkers because of…not having a driver’s license, or…taking the stairs because we cannot find the elevator buttons.”
Peppered throughout the book are multiple knee-slappers that the last generation of eye doctors inflicted upon their patients. I must admit I rolled my eyes several times as I visualized my father’s optometrist doing his usual schtick at the end of his refractions,
“Ever been to an optimistic optometrist? They’ll tell you that your glasses are half-full!”
Bu Dum Tss!
On the other hand, last week a kid asked me if I had any good optometrist jokes and I instantly pulled out another one from the book, that I thought would be awful, “What do you call low vision dinosaurs? Doyouthinktheysaurus?” The kid almost rolled off the chair. Never underestimate the power of borscht belt humor.
If you want a quick and amusing read that will give you insight into the world seen through the eyes of a partially sighted patient, I highly recommend, Enjoying the Adventures and Advantages of Poor Eyesight by Ken Brandt. 2020, the year that should have been the year of vision, is the perfect time to contemplate what happens when things don’t go exactly as you had envisioned they would.