Stargardt disease is a form of macular degeneration that leads to vision loss, although it is progressive, it helps when it diagnosed in its earlier stages. Unfortunately, this does not mean that it can be cured, as there is no known cure for it yet. Gene Purdie was born with Stargardt disease, unfortunately for him, he was not diagnosed with it until he was 16 years old, which led the disease to get more serious over time.
The way Stargardt disease affects vision, is by affecting just the central part of the vision spectrum, so anything that a person wants to focus their attention is just blurred out; anything from faces, signs, reading anything, are huge hurdles that they have to find ways to overcome, like using huge magnifying glasses to read something, for example.
Gene’s wife, Joy, thought that there was something really weird when she first met Gene. He would be approaching the place where Joy was, and she would wave at him to get his attention, but he would walk by. She thought that he might just be being rude or that there was something else. So, one day as he was walking by she asked him, how come she would be waving at her and he would keep ignoring her, his answer surprised her, he said: “I’m blind.” She then decided to invite him to sit down with her and get to know him more.
Gene has not let his condition affect his everyday activities, one thing that he really enjoys is cooking, reading the recipes is always the tricky part, but he likes to do it on his own without getting any help. His wife says that he is actually much better than her in the kitchen, that it will take him maybe 30 minutes to do something that it might take her close to 2 hours.
One day, Joy was watching an episode of the Rachel Ray show, a program she routinely watches, when she saw that there was a woman with the same condition as her husband and she was going to get to test a pair of special glasses that an inventor had developed, specially made for people who have this condition. These glasses use special cameras that capture videos, run it through a computer where a lot of adjustments are made to each and every pixel, and then displays the results in high-definition screens.
After seeing this show Joy writes Rachel Ray a letter explaining how her husband was just diagnosed at 16, in spite of being born with that impairment. They get the inventor back on the show and invite Joy and her family to have Gene give the glasses a try. His reaction when seeing his wife’s face for the first time brings her to tears.