white cane

Living with Retinitis Pigmentosa: When is it Time for a Cane?

I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) in my twenties. RP is an eye disease that causes the retina to slowly deteriorate. The light sensing cells called rods and cones begin to die off and leave you with tunnel vision, blind spots, night blindness and an overall diminished ability to see. Early on, the visual changes were subtle and sometimes I was unaware when I lost more vision in my peripheral fields. By the time I was 30 yrs. old, I could no longer drive. This called for making adjustments to a new way of living life without wheels!

Among my biggest challenges as I lost more vision was the ability to move about safely. I started doing some very annoying things like walking into doors, missing curbs, and bumping into people while in public. Sometimes funny things happened, like once I asked a mannequin for help in a store. Another time, I got so lost and turned around in a large public bathroom that someone had to help me find the door out. Awkward, right?