Thirty years ago, Maria Larmon was diagnosed with an eye condition that left her legally blind. Researchers at the Hotel Dieu Hospital Low Vision Rehabilitation Clinic have used new accessible technologies, including the iPad, to help Maria regain her independence.
Maria Larmon with Hotel Dieu ophthalmologists/researchers Dr. Mark Bona (left) and Dr. Zale Mednick (right).
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your health story?
About 20 years ago, when I was 30 years old, I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, an eye condition that eventually left me legally blind and unable to read or watch TV. I stayed in the house more and more. I tried using magnifiers and other low vision aids but without much success.
Why does health research matter to you?
Health research turned my life around. Thanks to a study in the Low Vision Rehabilitation Clinic at Hotel Dieu Hospital I learned how to use the really helpful accessibility features on an iPad such as the virtual assistant Siri and voiceover. Before, I had to hope like heck someone else remembered by medical appointments. Now I can track them myself, send emails, text, find recipes on the internet and access other applications that support people with low vision. I have my independence and privacy back, and a lot more hope for the future.
How does health research contribute to a healthier Ontario?
Having low vision can have a huge impact on your life. You run the risk of falling more or suffering from depression or losing a job. You could end up with more physical or mental health problems. Researchers like Dr. Mark Bona and Dr. Zale Mednick at Hotel Dieu Hospital aren’t just trying to help people see print better. They’re improving the quality of their lives by helping them to function better in society and live healthier, happier and more productive lives.
How can patients and families support, improve or empower health research?
I think patients can help to support research by speaking out about how research has helped them and improved the quality of their lives—good reasons to encourage others to participate in research studies.
Add your voice to the Patients + Research blog series. Email or call Elise Bradt at firstname.lastname@example.org, 416-205-1469, or direct message or tweet at us on Twitter at @CAHOhospitals.
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