Stevie Wonder Doesn’t Need Perfect Vision to be a Legendary Musician

Stevie Wonder was not born blind, but complications surrounding his birth resulted in his vision loss as a baby. According to reports, Mr. Wonder was born 6 weeks premature which required him to go on oxygen therapy. Consequently, he developed ocular complications that resulted in ‘blindness.’ Mr. Wonder’s vision loss is attributed to Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) and based on my ‘googling’ I would agree. In this particular installment, I will discuss Retinopathy of Prematurity, blindness, and discuss some conspiracy theories about Mr. Wonder’s loss of vision.

Retinopathy of prematurity occurs when a baby is born before the retina can complete development. As a result, part of the retina does not develop its blood supply. Often due to other systemic issues, premature infants need to have oxygen supplementation as part of their care. The oxygen therapy further suppresses blood vessel growth in the infant retina at first, then later on the retina makes its own, albeit faulty blood supply. As a result, these children can have impaired vision depending on the severity of the ROP. Infants who were born before 32 weeks gestation, are low birth weight, or had >50 days of oxygen therapy are at risk for ROP.

There are rumors that Mr. Wonder can actually see, but I think this is because ‘blindness’ is a poorly defined term. From a visual acuity stand point, legal blindness is not being able to see any letters on the 20/100 line in the better eye when wearing their best correction or having peripheral vision loss of less than 20 degrees in the better seeing. However, there is a spectrum of low vision and blindness that many normal sighted people often don’t consider. Many times people assume that blindness means no light perception or only being able to see hand motion. However, someone who can see the big ‘E’ on the eye chart can see objects on a desk and observe when a person enters the room.

I will now address the speculation that Mr. Wonder can ‘see’. Across the internet, it seems his vision has come into question because he ‘caught a falling mic stand’ before, ‘enjoys courtside basketball games,’ and has ‘play fought Boy George.’ One celebrity fan, Donald Glover, was on Jimmy Kimmel Live expressing his amazement that Mr. Wonder can text and is able to design good looking album covers. Well, as I have just mentioned, many ‘blind’ people have a functional level of vision. As a result, it is certainly plausible for Mr. Wonder to be legally blind and yet still catch a falling mic stand or play fight Boy George. Also, considering that Mr. Wonder has had reduced vision is whole life, I would assume he is adept to functioning with limited vision. As far as his ability to text or help design an excellent album cover, there are tons of devices such as text to speech programs and electronic magnification that could easily allow someone who cannot even see the big ‘E’ to complete those activities.

If you have more questions about low vision or know someone who has an eye condition, consider an area of optometry that is aimed at maximizing a person’s remaining vision called Low Vision Optometry. There are many strategies and devices that can help these patients meet their visual needs. At SEE, we like to partner with Dr. Laurie Hoffman or Dr. Brittany Flaherty at Metrolina Association for the Blind (MAB). MAB is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “reduce or eliminate the daily living challenges imposed upon people by blindness or visual impairment”. Vision rehabilitation services include low vision rehabilitation where patients learn how to use magnifiers, high powered reading glasses, telescopic options and more to be able to read, watch television, etc. Orientation and Mobility teaches patients how to use the white cane and utilize public transportation. Vision Rehabilitation Therapy allows patients to learn the skills necessary to live independently (cooking skills, home organization, etc.). Assistive Technology teaches patients who are blind or visually impaired how to access the computer, iPhone/iPad, use Amazon Alexa, etc. All of these services help patients meet their goals at MAB.

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Special thanks to Dr. Brittany Flaherty and Dr. Laurie Hoffman with the Metrolina Association for the Blind for their insights on patients with low vision needs and what legally blind means! Please read their bios below.

A Little Bit About…

A Little Bit About…

Ashley Iketani-Castillo, OD, MS

Dr. Iketani is a Florida native who has a passion for managing ocular disease. She views each patient as a whole person and believes the eyes are a window to a patient’s systemic health. She also has a passion for fitting rigid lenses on patients with corneal disease to help them obtain their best vision.

Dr. Iketani graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry where she completed internships at the Hefner Veteren’s Affairs hospital in Charlotte, NC and The Metrolina Association for the Blind which focused on Low Vision rehabilitation. Prior to pursuing optometry, she obtained a Masters of Science which focused on developmental genetics and worked as a technician in a lab that researched breast cancer.

Dr. Iketani currently resides in Charlotte with her husband, a pediatric resident, their two cats and they are welcoming a baby boy in December 2018.

A Little Bit About…

A Little Bit About…

Dr. Brittany Flaherty, OD – Low Vision Optometrist
Guest Contributor

Dr. Brittany Flaherty attended Penn State University (PSU), graduating with highest honors with a Bachelor of Science degree in Bio-engineering and a certification in Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE). While at PSU, she worked on the initial designs for a project to help bring healthcare to remote areas of Kenya. She was fortunate to travel and implement the initial stages of this project in Nyeri, a small village in Central Kenya.

After graduation, she attended Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) graduating in 2014 with highest honors both academically and clinically. Dr. Flaherty was again fortunate to put her knowledge and skills to use and work as an officer with the Student in Optometric Service to Humanity (SOSH) club and travel to El Salvador to deliver eye care to patients in need. She continued her education with a residency at the W.G. Hefner Veterans Administration Medical Center and remained on staff as an attending doctor in 2015. During her time at the V.A., Dr. Flaherty developed a passion for low vision and is excited to be a part of the MAB team. As well as working with MAB, Dr. Flaherty practices in Charlotte and Mooresville, focusing on primary eye care. She is a member of American Optometric Association (AOA), Piedmont Optometric Society (POS), and the North Carolina Optometric Society (NCOS).

A Little Bit About…

A Little Bit About…

Dr. Laurie Hoffman, OD, FAAO – Low Vision Optometrist
Guest Contributor

Dr. Laurie Hoffman received her Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Optometry in 2010 where she was a member of Beta Sigma Kappa International Optometric Honor Society and recipient of the prestigious Dean’s Award of Excellence. Dr. Hoffman also completed her undergraduate education at UAB in 2006, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and minors in Chemistry, Biology, and Psychology. In 2011, she completed a residency specializing in Geriatric Optometry and Low Vision Rehabilitation at the Birmingham Veterans Administration Medical Center. During her residency at the V.A., Dr. Hoffman performed low vision examinations on a outpatient basis as well as on an inpatient basis at the Southeastern Blind Rehabilitation Center.

Here in Charlotte, Dr. Hoffman is involved in the local chapter for Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) and is an in-house examiner for Part III of the National Board of Examinders in Optometry (NBEO). In addition to her extracurricular activities, Dr. Hoffman is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) and is a member of the American Optometric Association (AOA), and AOA Vision Rehabilitation Section (VRS), and the North Carolina Optometric Society (NCOS). She has been a valuable part of the MAB team since 2011.

Celebrity Eye Health Blog Series Disclaimer

With all celebrities discussed in this series I am simply using the power of Google and reporting the rumors of their eye conditions. I am not certain if these celebrities have these eye conditions, and I have never seen their medical records or examined them myself. I am simply reporting on a personal interest of mine and describing what these conditions are. My comments do not reflect the personal history of the celebrity or inside knowledge of them or their rumored condition. - Dr. Ashley Iketani-Castillo

Disclaimer

Information contained within this Web site is intended solely for educational purposes and is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice relative to your specific medical condition or question. Always seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider for any questions you may have regarding your medical condition. Only your physician can provide specific diagnoses and therapies. By using this Web site, you agree to this Medical Disclaimer.

205 E Council Street, Suite B
Salisbury, North Carolina 28144

Phone: (704) 310-5002
Fax: (704) 310-5003
kristin@salisburyeyecareandeyewear.com

 

205 E Council Street, Suite B
Salisbury, North Carolina 28144

Phone: (704) 310-5002
Fax: (704) 310-5003
kristin@salisburyeyecareandeyewear.com

 

Hours:
Monday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Wednesday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Thursday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Friday: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Hours:
Monday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Tuesday: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Wednesday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Thursday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Friday: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

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