​Brenda Picco's story

Riverview resident gives back to CNIB by volunteering to help others with vision loss

When Brenda Picco went for a regular eye exam in her early 20s, the results were completely unexpected. Despite having no signs or symptoms, Brenda was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease – a condition of the macula which causes the central vision to decrease over time. It was approximately 10 years later that she started noticing changes in her vision. First, the sight in one eye decreased to 20/200. The other eye eventually caught up. In her late thirties, Brenda was told that she was no longer able to drive. With time, her job as a physiotherapy assistant also became more difficult. “As my vision worsened, I was beginning to struggle with computer work and recognizing patients when they came in,” says Brenda. In 2011, Brenda made the difficult decision to leave her position at the physiotherapy clinic. “With three children and no license or job, this was an extremely difficult time for me,” says Brenda. “I had always worked so I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I began taking the bus which gave me some independence, but I found it hard to read the numbers and was often reluctant to ask for help.”

With CNIB’s assistance, Brenda learned different techniques to help her adjust to her vision loss and make the most of her remaining sight. CNIB’s Independent Living Skills (ILS) specialist shared tips to help her mark appliances in her kitchen. Brenda also uses a handheld magnifier to help her while shopping or out for dinner.

Two years ago, Brenda started giving back to her community by becoming a CNIB volunteer and she hasn’t looked back since. Today, she continues to come into the organization about once a week and helps out wherever she’s needed. She has helped out in many areas including office reception, Dining in the Dark fundraisers, information booths and ILS follow-up calls. “I really enjoy volunteering for CNIB as I can often relate to clients and the issues they’re experiencing,” says Brenda. “It gives me the opportunity to share tips and tricks that CNIB was able to show me in order to adapt to specific situations.”

Not only does volunteering give Brenda the opportunity to socialize with other individuals living with vision loss, but it also allows her to give back to an organization that has helped her throughout the years. Today, Brenda currently resides in Riverview, New Brunswick and enjoys working out at her local gym and spending time with her family.


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