Many people don't want to think about the possibility of going blind, but image if you were an aware winning director and journalist who learns that they are going blind? Peabody Award winning journalist Joe Lovett has this happen to him, and rather than give up, he did what he does best. He made a documentary (Going Blind) about his journey to better understand what was happening to himself along with drawing inspiration from others in his travels.
'Going Blind' not only wound up helping Lovett's journey slow down the course of his disease through medication and surgeries, it's helped countless others learn how to deal with suffering vision issues and realize that it doesn't have to be the end of the world. To see when it's playing in your area you can check out the PBS Going Blind Broadcast link.
Below are some of the stories he followed in the making of this powerful documentary that's been under the radar but is a must see for anyone with or without vision. It's also a great push to remind people to get their eyes checked yearly just to be safe. We take our vision for granted, but after watching this film, you won't. And it's not a downer either, it's very inspirational as the sub-title Coming Out Of the Dark About Vision Loss states.
Steve Baskis - Roadside bomb attack
Texas native Steve Baskis was 22 and Private First Class in the Army when a roadside bomb north of Baghdad hit his vehicle. In addition to injuries all over his body, Steve suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TMI) when shrapnel from the bomb caused nerve damage to his eyes, leaving him blind. Going Blind documents Steve’s transition from recovery to his new life at his own apartment, designed by himself for independent living as a blind person.
Ray Kornman- Retinitis Pigmentosa
At age 29 while at a routine doctor’s visit to renew his contact lens prescription, Ray Kornman discovered he had retinitis pigmentosa, an incurable eye disease that would leave him blind by the age of 40. In Going Blind, Ray discloses his initial feelings of hopelessness and vulnerability before learning of the various services available for the blind. Now, secure in his condition and content with his life, Ray’s mission is to spread the message about the power of guide dogs.
Emmet Teran - Strabismus
Emmet is an eleven year old [when filmed] with low vision from albinism, a condition he inherited from his father. Emmet works with a comedy troupe after school in Manhattan, and uses humor to dismiss some of the hurts a child encounters from his peers.
Peter D’Elia- Age-related Macular Degeneration
Peter is a New Jersey architect, and has lost vision in his left eye to macular
degeneration. His career was in jeopardy when he noticed that he could not see out of his right eye. His passion for architecture gives him the drive to continue working, and the advent of new medication for wet macular degeneration restored his sight.
Patricia Williams- Glaucoma and Traumatic Injury
Pat is a legally blind woman still struggling with her place in the sighted world, as well as in the visually impaired community. She works as a program support assistant at the VA center in New York City. The enlarged type on her computer screen has helped her flourish in her job. While at times she needs some help getting around, Pat is a fiercely independent woman who does not let her disability define her.
Dr. Robert Ritch
Dr. Ritch is a Surgeon Director and the Chief of Glaucoma Services at New York’s Eye and Ear Infirmary. He is also a Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at the New York Medical College. Dr. Ritch, a leading voice on Glaucoma, and has authored several major books on the disease as well as hundreds of scientific papers. Dr. Ritch and Joe work together to treat Joe’s glaucoma.
Dr. Dong Feng Chen
Dr. Chen is an Associate Scientist at the Schepens Eye Research Institute as well as an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. Much of her work focuses on the optic nerves of mammals. During a meeting at Schepens, Dr. Chen explains to Joe that her research is aimed at gaining a better understanding of the effect and permanence, disease and/or damage has on the optic nerve.
Gerald is a Service Chief at the Hines Blind Rehabilitation Center at the Hines VA hospital in Oak Park, Illinois. He has worked at Hines since the Vietnam War and continues to work closely and passionately with the veterans that come through the center. The film highlights Gerald’s relationship with Steve Baskis along with the many other veterans at Hines.
Dr. Bruce Rosenthal
Dr. Rosenthal is an Adjunct Professor at Mt. Sinai Hospital and State University of New York-College of Optometry. He is also the Chief of Low Vision Programs at Lighthouse International. Dr. Rosenthal has worked with the Lighthouse for over 35 years, and written seven books on an array of vision related topics. Dr. Rosenthal helps Joe grapple with his vision and take advantage of the many resources in the low vision community.
Dr. Michael Fischer
Dr. Fischer is a low vision certified Optometrist at Lighthouse International. He is also the Chief of Optometry Service and the Department of Veterans Medical Affairs in Northport, New York. For 12 years, Dr. Fischer was the Director of Low Vision Services at the Lighthouse. In the film, he treats Emmet and enlightens Joe by demonstrating the positive effect of low vision therapy. Dr. Fischer specializes in pediatric optometry and is a fellow at the American Academy of Optometry.
[callout title=Going Blind Documentary Synopsis]What does a filmmaker do when he finds out he is losing his sight but his doctors don’t want to talk about what his future might be? In Joe Lovett’s
case, you take to the streets. It is there that he meets others who have lost their vision, chronicling their struggle and filming the efforts he employs to save his remaining vision.
Going Blind is a unique documentary film that increases public awareness of sight loss and low vision issues profoundly affecting the lives of more and more people and those who love them.
Documentary film director and journalist Joe Lovett has glaucoma, a disease that robs 4.5 million people of their vision worldwide. Over the years, Joe has lost a significant amount of vision and in his concern about how to deal with more vision loss, he has started to talk with people who have already lost theirs.
Going Blind features a spirited and attractive cast coping with some of the major blinding diseases in America today: art teacher Jessica Jones has diabetic retinopathy, architect Peter D’Elia suffers from age-related macular degeneration, outreach coordinator for The Seeing Eye, a guide dog school, Ray Kornman has retinitis pigmentosa, veterans administration worker Patricia Williams has glaucoma and a traumatic Injury, 11 year old Emmet Teran has nystagmus and Iraq War Veteran Steve Baskis lost his sight in a roadside bomb attack.
Going Blind weaves Joe’s mission to slow down the course of his disease through medication and surgeries, with the stories of others whom he looks to for guidance in a darkening world.
These compelling individual stories provide a glimpse into the world of low vision and blindness. Worldwide, 37,000,000 people have lost their vision. In the United States alone, Lighthouse International reports that 10 million people are legally blind (1.3 million) or visually impaired (8.7 million). Given our aging population and the increasing prevalence of low vision in
our society, it is of paramount importance that we understand sight loss and work towards a better future. Going Blind encourages and inspires people to take action to preserve, prolong, and maximize the precious gift of sight – for themselves, their loved ones, and society.
About Joseph Lovett: Joseph Lovett founded Lovett Productions in 1989 after ten years as a producer at ABC News 20/20. Concentrating on health and social issues, the company has produced over 35 hours of prime time television specials over the last 20 years. Broadcasts include; Born in my Heart, a Love Story, Barbara Walters ABC Special on adoption, Fat Like Me, an ABC program on childhood obesity, and Coming Home, a Hallmark Channel special on forgiveness.
His film, State of Denial, about AIDS denialism in South Africa, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on PBS’ P.O.V. Three Sisters: Searching for a Cure, an HBO film on a family dealing with ALS premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Gay Sex in the 70s explores the emergence of gay identity in the twelve years between the 1969 Stonewall Riots and the advent of the AIDS crisis in 1981. The film’s television premiere was on the Sundance Channel.
The Accident, Joe's first feature documentary, is a startling perspective on love and loss in a family memoir shot over twenty-five years. The Accident toured the international festival circuit to sold-out audiences. Joe wrote, directed and produced Cancer: Evolution to Revolution, an HBO film about what people with cancer need to know to maximize their chances of survival. The film has been honored with The Peabody Award, The Christopher Award, an Emmy nomination, as well as numerous filmmaker awards from cancer advocacy organizations.
As a producer for ABC's 20/20 in the 1980's, Joe produced the first in-depth AIDS investigations for national television. Later, as an independent filmmaker, he produced and directed In a New Light, an annual broadcast of AIDS education and outreach specials. In a New Light, aired annually for fiveyears on ABC. Joe’s continuing work fighting the global epidemic won him The AIDS Action Foundation AIDS Leadership Award.[/callout]