Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Power of "WE." Michael Benson, founder of the Visual Experience Foundation shares his story. Part I

I was born in December of 1961 and suddenly this happy day became a nightmare for my parents. I was immediately taken from my Mother's hospital room in New Brunswick, NJ and bought to NYC to become the youngest baby in the world to have Glaucoma surgery performed by Dr. Aldolph Posner. 

My name is Michael Benson. Being asked to tell my experiences for this blog is a honor and a privilege. I now consider sharing my strength and hope a calling to those who are being effected by a diagnosis of unstoppable vision loss. My Glaucoma diagnosis was never linked to my family tree. It took the birth of my two children and having them testing them at birth to face the reality that if that they had Glaucoma there would be no question that it was be passed from me. They will continue to be tested throughout their lifetime.

Perhaps you have been diagnosed with a form of eye disease or someone you love - a spouse, child, or close friend - has been diagnosed with Glaucoma. I hope that what I have to say will be meaningful or make a difference in your perspective that will help you through this hallway of life. I will begin by telling you that WE are traveling this road together and that "WE" is a powerful word. You are not alone. 

I have flashbacks of yelling at my parents as a confused teen. I told them I hated them, this disease and it was all their fault. I had emotional breakdowns trying to deal with it all. I am so grateful that the care I have received over the years has maintained my vision. But growing up with Glaucoma what wasn’t discussed was how I was feeling. I believe that the unique timing of the advancement in technology has saved my vision up until now. And gratefully, the information age allows us to be connected by reading this blog together as a "WE." A "WE" that are uniquely qualified to empower each other.

I am you and you are me.

I felt so alone growing up with my secret that none of my friends knew. According to the doctors, I was slowly going blind. As I have aged medical technology has continued to advance to maintain my vision well enough to live a normal life. That includes still driving, working, going to concerts and starting a foundation. I know that I am blessed. Today I never take a sighted day for granted. I have come to believe in my heart that gratitude is truly an action word.

My experience and your experience can help others who feel they are alone. WE can do this thing they call life on life terms together. I have found that a big part of living and coping with eye disease is my attitude. I am convinced that there will be cures in our lifetime. This is an important frame of mind to believe in as the hopelessness that I struggled with in my younger years was always circumvented by the discovery of more effective eye drops or a new surgery that had been developed. Hope would show up once again. This is not denial - it is a mind set and you have a choice.

This is just a short blog and as I am writing I know that I have so much to tell you. Perhaps I will write it all down some day but for today I want to share with you a few of the ways my eye disease has driven decisions in my life. It is always the same problem, just hidden in many forms, degrees, shapes and sizes. The only consistent part of Glaucoma has always been "Mr. Fear" who shows up unannounced and sets up camp in my mind.

End of Part I.

Glaucoma isn't picky. It can strike anyone at any stage of life. There is no cure. Vision that is lost cannot be regained. Get the facts. Schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist for a comprehensive exam today. Glaucoma can happen to anyone, anytime. A high risk group includes having a family history of glaucoma, being very nearsighted or diabetic. African Americans, Hispanics, also being over the age of 60 increases the risk. You can be born with glaucoma. There is treatment - lifelong treatment - once you are diagnosed. But you must be first diagnosed.

For more information please visit www.glaucoma.org, the Glaucoma Research Foundation's web site. It's your vision. Don't lose it.

To learn more about Michael Benson please visit his website www.visualexperiencefoundation.org or www.lovevision.org


  1. Powerful testimony Michael! You are an inspiration! I had no idea when we were in high school. You were an amazing record breaking wrestler and athlete, whom we all loved. To see you make such a difference... in something that has impacted your life... is truly changing and redirecting many lives toward awareness, and hope. Thank you for all you do! ~ Kerry

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