UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 8:53am
The veterans hospital in Waco is building a new blind rehabilitation center. The center will be complete in two years.
Right now, there are more than one million veterans with low vision or blindness in the U.S. Rickey Rodriguez is one of those who is losing his eye sight. He says, "Not being able to do the things i am able to do right now. It would put me in total blindness-- darkness. That's my biggest fear really right now."
Blind veterans can come to the Waco Veteran Hospital to become more independent. Rodriguez is learning how to do daily activities to prepare himself for when he is totally blind. Rodriguez says, "I like to cook, go out on the yard, work on the yard, barbecue. That's one of my biggest passions, and I hope, whatever happens, that I'll still be able to do it."
The blind rehab center in Waco is one of only ten in the country. Optometrist at VA, Dr. Wacker, says, "There's lots of equipment, lots of techniques that people can learn if they take part in our rehab program." That's equipment like money scanners to tell which bills a person is holding, weight scales, special computers and writing tools.
One tool to help veterans is a prescription bottle reader. All you have to do is press a button, and the tool scans the label. They also have tools to help in the kitchen like a liquid detector to tell you when the glass is full.
The numbers of blind veterans are expected to increase in the future with veterans from the Vietnam War aging. Dr. Wacker says centers like this will be there to help.