Veteran services

Grateful Blind Veteran at Houston VA Low Vision Clinic

While serving in the Air Force, doctors diagnosed Alexander Brown with multiple sclerosis and he retired from medical service after just nine years of service. As a civilian, his condition gradually worsened and significantly affected his quality of life.

“Simple things like putting toothpaste on a toothbrush became a difficult task for me,” Brown said. “I quickly lost the ability to drive and lost interest in activities that otherwise brought me joy. »

Brown self-medicates with alcohol to combat depression. “I felt like no one understood what I was going through due to the nature of multiple sclerosis being an invisible disease.”

During his first appointment with his primary care physician at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Brown was referred to the Visual Impairment Services Outpatient Rehabilitation (VISOR) clinic, which is one of nine VA clinics in nationwide that provide comprehensive ambulatory low vision. services.

“Staff members with visual issues gave me motivation and hope.”

Brown took an optometry exam for low vision, then participated in vision skills/low vision therapy, mobility and navigation skills, life skills education, and assistive technology training .

“I was impressed with the attention to detail they brought to my assessments and how it affected me,” he said. “I was also fascinated by the fact that some staff members themselves suffered from sight problems or blindness. It gave me motivation and hope.

Stephen Pandov, an assistive technology specialist, worked with Brown to help him improve his mobility and navigation skills.

Brown also received a computer and an iPad with assistive technology, as well as several pairs of glasses. The clinic connected him with community resources, such as the Blind Veterans Association.

“Strongly encourage veterans with visual issues to visit VISOR.”

“My journey with the VISOR Clinic has been nothing short of spectacular,” Brown said. “Before I knew it, I was cooking again, leaving the house more and enjoying my hobbies again.” Brown was able to watch her child graduate and also earn an associate’s degree in mental health counseling from San Jacinto Community College.

“I owe all of this to the excellence and quality of care provided by this team. I strongly encourage all veterans with visual impairment and blindness to visit VISOR to experience this life-changing experience. »

Brown hopes to become an alcohol and drug counselor.

“It’s an honor to serve all of our veterans, but it’s special to be part of Alexander Brown’s recovery journey. He’s going to pay it forward and help other veterans in his career,” said Amy Wheeler, Director of VISOR. “He took the tools and skills learned in VISOR and used them to achieve his goals. Vision loss doesn’t have to define a person and it’s living proof of that.