Wendy Hoang - Student

Wendy Hoang - StudentLike most young people, Wendy Hoang is preparing for her future: setting goals, applying for school and deciding what career path to follow.

But Wendy is also preparing for a different kind of challenge: her eye doctor has cautioned her that she may lose her vision completely within the next few years. So, with the help of CNIB, Wendy has also been preparing for a future as a person living with vision loss.

Just Like Everyone Else

Wendy, now 23 years old, has been nearsighted all of her life. “I wore big thick glasses from an early age,” she says, although she wears none now. “I never thought I’d become blind. I was just like everyone else, but I just didn’t see as well.”

Despite having low vision, however, she has always been active and independent. After finishing high school she worked as a pharmacist’s assistant, as a technician in a photo studio (“I used my left eye, which is stronger,” she explains) and as a cashier in a small retail store. The oldest of three children in a single-parent family, she has also helped to raise her youngest brother, who is 13 years old.

Retinal Detachment

Several years ago, she noticed that her vision was deteriorating, and voluntarily gave up her job at the retail store, out of concern that she could no longer reliably see the bills and coins she was handling.

Her eye doctor told her that the retina in her right eye had detached. It was surgically reattached, but she has now developed a cataract in that eye which normally would be treatable, but in her case isn’t. She has also been losing vision in her left eye.

“My doctor told me it is very possible that I will lose my vision completely,” she says.

Most people would have been devastated by this news – surveys show that Canadians fear losing their sight above any other sense – and Wendy admits to being a bit nervous about losing her vision completely. “I think I will be a bit scared,” she confesses. “I’m scared of the dark.”

Staying Focused with CNIB

But her main concern was how to stay focused and achieve her goals. She remembered receiving mail from CNIB as a child, inviting her to summer camp and other activities for young people, but at the time “I didn’t think it was my thing. I wasn’t blind, so I didn’t think I needed it.” After watching a public service announcement explaining that CNIB is on hand for all Canadians regardless of the level of vision loss, Wendy knew CNIB was for her.

“I realized CNIB was actually very relevant to me, and I came to see what programs and services would be useful for me,” she says.

She is preparing to learn braille and is on a waiting list for a low vision assessment and counselling services. She also wants to learn how to use accessible computer technology, although she is still able to type at her home computer now.

“I memorized the keys in typing class,” she says with a grin.

Looking On the “Sunny” Side

Earlier this year she completed the Workplace Essential Skills Partnership (WESP) program, offered by the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work in collaboration with CNIB, where her focus and her cheerful outlook earned her the nickname “Sunny.” Her goal is to train as a massage therapist, and she is in the process of applying to schools in order to obtain her certification.

“Stress is really harmful, and causes a lot of other problems,” she says.

Besides massage, she has a keen interest in natural healing and natural products, and ultimately hopes to be a positive, healing influence in the lives of others.

Help Us Make a Difference

From time to time, we reach out to Canadians for donations to ensure that CNIB is on hand for individuals who are searching for the services and support necessary to enjoy a good quality of life while living with vision loss. Please give generously.