Retinitis Pigmentosa Pt. 1 | Teen Ink

Retinitis Pigmentosa Pt. 1

June 21, 2019
By kcornell13 GOLD, Hartland, Wisconsin
kcornell13 GOLD, Hartland, Wisconsin
15 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Aim for the moon. If you miss, you might just hit a star."


When I was 13, my younger sister, Rebecca, was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. She was only 6 years old. They said she would lose all of her sight by high school. We immediately saw the symptoms of her blindness that we’d missed before. She was blind in dark spaces (her eyes didn’t adjust like regular eyes) and at night when it was dark. It pained me to see her struggle as a little six-year-old.

Rebecca lost all of her sight during her freshman year of high school when she was 15. I was 22 and graduated from Yale University the following June. I was very busy with my final exams, and couldn’t help at all. I felt so bad, but there was nothing I could do. Once I graduated, I got my own apartment near our home. I saw Rebecca frequently now that I was out of school and living near home. You could tell that she was struggling with her blindness. All she could see were the lights.

I helped Rebecca adopt her first guide dog that summer while I moved into my apartment. Rebecca and I chose a large yellow lab dog, trained as a guide dog, named Molly. Molly went to school with Rebecca every day that September. We all were used to Molly being with Rebecca, and soon Molly was part of the family.

Rebecca graduated high school on time, and I saw her get her diploma with Molly at her side. By now, Rebecca was 18. She’d been living blindly for 3 years. She had no plans to attend college or a university. Rebecca lived with my parents for another year until she wanted to live on her own. My parents thought it was a bad idea, but she really wanted me to move out. So I found a bigger apartment and Rebecca moved in with me.


The author's comments:

Retinitis Pigmentosa is a rare disorder that causes the Retina, part of the eye that helps us see, break down over the years. People who suffer from this disorder are usually born legally blind, diagnosed at a young age, and lose the majority of their sight in their teenage years. This story was inspired by Molly Burke, who has Retinitis Pigmentosa. She is a motivational speaker and a YouTuber who talks about how she navigates life as a blind person. I would highly recommend watching Molly Burke if this kind of thing interests you.


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