When Blindness Comes Too Soon

Bower is currently looking forward to new adaptive technologies that would make data readouts more tactile, possibly eliminating the need for video magnifiers. She is also hopeful about new retinal transplant studies, for which the first clinical human trials are currently underway in Europe.

"The stem cell trials are the most promising hope for a treatment," said Dr. Marc Gannon, director of the Low Vision Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "Not only might we be able to repair vision that's already been lost, but this research could help identify the genetics that cause the early or juvenile forms of the disease, helping us to stop the vision loss before it even begins."

For now, Bower, who is also a married mother of one, said support from her family and her employers at the institute, who helped purchase most of her equipment, has been key.

"For anyone who finds themselves in the situation I was in 25 years ago, they need to learn to become a very strong self-advocate," Bower said. "And hopefully, you want to pursue something that you're passionate about, because you're going to need the energy that comes from such a passion to push through the challenges."

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