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 around the world.
Director Joseph Lovett has glaucoma, a disease that robs 4.5 million people worldwide of their vision. After years of slowly losing his sight, Joe decides to take action: to investigate how people all over the country respond to vision-loss. His search begins small, with people Joe meets on the streets of his hometown New York City and gradually leads him to places and people around the country, of all different ages and backgrounds. Each has a fascinating story about dealing with the vision loss caused by sight-robbing diseases, infections and accidents. As a filmmaker, Joe uses the tool he knows best to gather information, to connect with individuals and to find answers to share with the world.
Going Blind interweaves Joe’s story with that of his fellow subjects. Inviting us into the intimate spaces of the visually impaired and blind, Joe takes us into the homes, hospitals and workplaces of these characters. In his own self-portrayal, he bravely shows how glaucoma is threatening a filmmaker’s entire lifestyle. With determination, Joe does everything he can to slow down the course of his disease from medication to surgeries, visual aids and the support of family and friends. From his subjects and fellow members of the visually impaired community, Joe receives a guiding light in a darkening world. An array of intimate anecdotes provide a glimpse into the world of low vision and blindness for sighted and visually impaired viewers. A startling 37 million people worldwide have lost their vision, while in the United States alone, Lighthouse International reports that 10 million people are legally blind or visually impaired. Here are the stories of six of them.
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Jessica serendipitously met Joe on the streets of her current home, New York City, while she was training her seeing-eye dog, Chef. Jessica was only 32 and an artist teaching in the New York City public school system when she lost her vision in eight months from diabetic retinopathy. Initially, Jessica faced opposition through her illness with a lack of knowledge on both her and her family’s part and a dearth of career opportunities. Determined not to succumb to these obstacles, Going Blind traces Jessica’s evolution to empowerment as she finds multiple strategies and technology assistance to cope with her blindness, and finally lands an art teaching position at the Lavelle School for the Blind in the Bronx.
Eleven-year old Emmet has low vision due to his albinism, a condition he inherited from his father who also lives with low vision. Emmet needs every detail to be enlarged in order to see, limiting his participation in school, sports, and activities with friends. Recent operations provide hope, yet Emmett takes it upon himself to cope with his illness—participating in an after school comedy troupe, Emmet’s humor is uplifting to himself and his family and friends.
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 created nerve damage to his eyes, leaving him blind. Going Blind documents Steve’s transition from recovery at Hines Blind Rehabilitation Center outside of Chicago to his new life at his own apartment, cleverly designed by himself for independent living as a blind person.
Pat Williams is a legally blind woman, who struggles to bridge her place between the world of the sighted and that of the visually impaired. As a program support assistant at the New York City center for Veterans Affairs, Pat has found ways to adapt her work environment to her own needs. Yet at times it is necessary for her to receive help from family for daily needs. For five years of Pat’s life, she was afraid to go outside because of her condition. Throughout the film, Pat works to strike a balance between relying on family and remaining a fiercely independent woman who does not let her disability define her.
An 85-year-old working architect suffering from macular degeneration, Peter D’Elia has been slowly losing his vision over the past 10 years. His career was in crisis when he noticed that his vision was failing even in his good right eye. Through passion, stamina and an open mind for new opportunities, Peter finds the drive to continue working, trying new medication for his illness and fighting to restore his sight. Despite vision loss, Peter continues to pursue his love of architecture at his home in New Jersey.
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. Ray’s life changed when he got his guide dog at the Seeing Eye in Morristown. Now, secure in his condition and content with his life, Ray’s mission is to spread the message about the power of guide dogs.