Case Study – Ted Thorburn

Ted says he is blind but "lucky"

Ted Thorburn can find a bright side to almost anything – even going blind. He was born with glaucoma, a degenerative eye disease, but he managed to pack a lot of adventure into his life before his eyesight failed.

"I was one of the lucky ones," he said. "I had fair vision until I was in my mid-to-late thirties. I'd travelled and worked throughout Australia in my younger years so I'd had a chance to do a lot of interesting things."

The 55-year-old from Mossman, Queensland, is a mentor, poet and inspiration to many people in his region, particularly those who are blind or have low vision. But he's had his share of struggle. He went through a tough ''loss period" when glaucoma claimed much of his vision.

"I was just getting over the loss of vision in my right eye when my second one started to go. Then I started to tumble over," he said.

"It took me several years to realise that I was going to have to use a cane; I was in denial. I kept feeling sorry for myself and generally floated around in my late thirties and early forties. Looking back, I wasted a lot of years. The only thing that kept me going was good rellies. We used to go camping and did a bit of travelling."

The turning point came in 2000 when he joined a local support group for people with blindness and low vision.

"I became involved in committees and voluntary work," he said. "I also discovered the computer was accessible and this opened up a whole new world.

"I now have precious little vision and use a cane for mobility but here I am enjoying life again. Yes, and using a white cane – it's not as bad as it seems, truly!"

To find out more about glaucoma visit Glaucoma Australia's website at (external link)

More information about Vision Australia services can be found at (external link)