How This Man Uses Technology to Improve His Life with Stargardt Disease

I hear a lot of talk about technology these days. There seems to be a growing group of people who argue that it creates more problems than it solves. It certainly can be problematic when it takes ten minutes to figure out that your computer needs to download a new printer driver in order for you to get the document you have to sign, scan, and then email back. However, there are certainly advantages to having technology. You can call your children to find out where they are at any time night or day. Like it or not, technology permeates all aspects of our lives.

For one young man with Stargardt disease, according to his blog post on the Vision 2020 Australia website, technology has become a necessary part of his everyday life.
Stargardt disease is an inherited disease that primarily affects the retina of the eye. It is most often diagnosed in children and adolescents as their eyesight continues to deteriorate. Stargardt rarely progresses to complete blindness. Currently, there are no approved treatments for this disease.

In a post from earlier this year, Matt De Gruchy shares what it’s like to live a day in the life of a person with Stargardt. Matt freely admits to the difficulties he faced after being diagnosed with the disease at the age of nine. He could hardly see the whiteboard or his textbooks to follow along with the lesson. Going to school can be difficult for anyone, let alone someone who is labeled “visually impaired.” He even struggled to get his teachers and the other staff at his schools to understand what that phrase meant.

Toward the end of Matt’s time in high school, he discovered the advantages that technology offered him. He started to take pictures of the whiteboard with his phone, so he could zoom in to see. He found features on his computer to make the text larger. He started listening to audiobook versions of his textbooks. His grades turned around. He started to succeed. He won an excellence award in his final year at school.

Matt went on to become a supervisor at a local retail store in his hometown. He enjoys the challenges that he faces every day. We could all learn a thing or two from Matt. He doesn’t let the hand that he was dealt hold him back. He found ways to use technology to compensate and overcome his daily challenges.

Click here to read Matt’s original blog post.

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