Brian’s Battle


Brian just completed his annual Vision Walk in South Carolina. The Vision Walk is sponsored by the Foundation for Fighting Blindness and helps to raise awareness for RP and other eye diseases. Photo used with permission from Mr. Herrin.

Rachel McCord, Staff Writer

Earlier this month, Mr. Herrin came to my psychology class during our study of the eye and shared about a disorder that his grandson, Brian, has, known as Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Brian is ten years old and attends Rice Creek Elementary in South Carolina. He was diagnosed with RP at the age of four and has had to adapt over the years, along with Mr. Herrin, his wife and Brian’s parents, who have learned many things not only about the eye, but also about life over the past six years.

Retinitis Pigmentosa is an eye disorder that greatly limits a person’s vision. It also continually takes away more of a person’s sight and can eventually lead to blindness. Brian’s scope of vision is approximately one inch, or, as Mr. Herrin put it, “if you put a straw up to your eye, it is all you would be able to see.” To put this in perspective, if Brian is looking in front of him, he cannot see anyone or anything beside, above or below him. This means that he cannot see if there are stairs in front of him or if someone sits beside him. Obviously, this presents many potential dangers for him; however, over the years, Brian’s parents have learned how to take precautions to lessen his danger.

Whenever Brian comes to visit them, Mr. Herrin and his wife have learned to have all the lights on, so that Brian is able to see as much as possible. Whenever they go out, Brian’s parents make sure that the restaurant they are eating at or place they are visiting is well lit and are sure to keep a constant eye on Brian to be sure that he is aware of his surroundings. While they are very careful and deliberate when it comes to Brian’s safety, they also make it a priority to expose him to as many places and environments as possible.

While Brian is obviously limited by RP, he has not allowed this disorder to hold him back. He is very active and an excellent student. He loves math and social studies and has even learned how to read Braille.

Brian also participates in an annual Vision Walk founded by the Foundation for Fighting Blindness, which helps to raise awareness and money for various eye diseases. Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse the damage already done by RP, however, there are ways to prevent further damage and to prevent other people from getting RP and this is one of the things that the Vision Walk works towards. Brian will be participating in this walk in South Carolina on May 2nd, and there will also be a Vision Walk in Georgia in April. They have a goal of raising $5,000 and participation is greatly appreciated.

Over the years, Brian has developed a “Bucket List” of things that he would like to do before he loses more of his sight. A few points on his list include going to Disney World again as well as visiting the Grand Canyon and Washington DC. Brian also loves to attend camps such as “South Carolina Camp for Blind and Deaf” and “Lion’s Den.” Brian has expressed his interest in becoming a counselor at one of these camps when he gets older. Although he is still very young, Brian is already eager to use his struggles to help those around him.

Brian’s disorder has helped him to appreciate everyday things in life. Mobility, vision and independence are things that we take for granted every day, but at the age of ten, Brian has already developed an appreciation for these things as well as a desire to help others who struggle with them. Although he is limited in his sight, he seems to see more than many of us do.