When she was eight years old, Marta was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). By the time she was twenty, her vision had started to deteriorate. In 2019, a friend recommended Lighthouse Guild services to Marta. She had a comprehensive low vision exam and was referred for vision rehabilitation, orientation and mobility, and behavioral health services. 

After a comprehensive low vision exam, Marta received mobility skills training that included teaching her how to utilize the white cane and safely cross the street. Most important to her were the mental health services that provided her with the therapy she needed to accept her vision loss. She believes that the therapeutic treatment she received from the social worker and psychiatrist of Lighthouse Guild’s Dorothy Strelsin Behavioral Health Clinic was a life-changing experience for her.

“From the vision rehabilitation to the tele-support groups, to emotional adjustments, to blindness. It is a terrific place to go for vision loss services, and the resources are endless,” Marta says. “The Lighthouse Guild is like a family to me, and they are more understanding of my vision loss than my biological family or parents. And that is special to have the support and people who believe in me. That’s unique.” 

Knowing that I am not alone really makes a difference, and being able to relate and just talk about different struggles is a huge help.

Martha, client
Martha, client

Marta was also connected to the Young Adult Tele-Support Network that helps people with vision impairment between the ages of 20 to 34. The support group enables its participants to overcome challenges and build momentum towards career, family, and independence goals. The group, comprised of people from across the country, meets twice a month, via phone or online. A licensed professional guides discussions to connect participants, provide helpful resources and tools, and help develop strategies for maximizing opportunities. 

 “The experience has been absolutely amazing. I was feeling really lost and confused, and I did not know how to cope with my vision loss,” says Marta. “I suffered from depression and anxiety due to my vision loss. Because of the program, I am now able to open up more and connect with the group, and I share my challenges and troubles.” 

Marta continues, “Knowing that I am not alone really makes a difference, and being able to relate and just talk about different struggles is a huge help.”

Currently working as a certified life coach, Marta works with clients who have genetic conditions like her. She credits the tele-support program for preparing her for the position. 

“A big reason I got this job is due to the encouragement I received from the facilitator on the tele-support calls.”  She says.

Marta feels Lighthouse Guild has genuinely made a difference in her life, and she often comes to seek services. She no longer feels like she is alone in dealing with vision loss. She has gained confidence and independence through all the programs and services she participates in and has cultivated supportive friendships.

“Lighthouse Guild truly empowers visually impaired clients to thrive and overcome their challenges related to their vision loss,” Marta says. “I encourage people who are visually impaired and blind to get connected with Lighthouse Guild so they can live the lives they dream of.”

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Lighthouse Guild is collecting stories about how eye health programs benefit you and your family. These personal stories are invaluable in showing local leaders how this issue impacts real people. Share your story and help ensure our future health care system reflects the needs of our communities.