RSI continues to coordinate with these endeavors. Some people have been “declared blind” without adequate professional examinations and a very few are actually discovered to be candidates for low vision rehabilitation or even surgery that can elevate the standard of their quality of life. All persons who have not been thoroughly examined, even those in schools for the blind should be checked before admission.
RSI advocates a positive, caring, supportive attitude on the part of eye care professionals beyond the point when the patient has to be told that no presently known medical or surgical therapy can help. It can be a simple thing like encouraging youngsters to participate in games and sports that can be enjoyed even without any vision at all. For example, RSI was there in the town of Alfonso Lista, Philippines early in 2011 to cheer on the children in the “Hope for Sight” competition. In the photograph of the blind running girl one can see her smile as she races along a rope stretched from the starting point to the finish of the race. She ran with grace and gusto and the cheers from the sidelines by friends, family, team mates, and other observers obviously delighted her.
In the future, high tech sensory devices will be developed to transmit visual images to the brain, making the lives of the “blind” happier and expanding the opportunities for work and enjoyment. Some early successes, although primitive at this time, are encouraging and offer a realistic hope. Access to such technology will be limited but will inevitably expand.
Additionally, the results of stem cell research may offer help to some patients. RSI’s longer term plans include stem cell research. In some other research laboratories working in nations with a highly developed level of technology studies are underway with gene therapy now that science begins to understand how to manipulate genes and change the way that living cells behave.
RSI is deeply impressed by the courage, determination, and sheer will to be happy that is so often exhibited by blind people.