Living a Full and Meaningful Life with Low VisionClinical Expertise
Feb 16, 2023
Meredyth Sauter will tell you she had the “perfect life until the bottom fell out one day.” The married mother of two was excelling in her management consulting career. Until, in her early 30s, she started developing cataracts. That was the first sign of a more troubling diagnosis.
Through a series of testing, Meredyth was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a rare, inherited degenerative retinal disease that causes severe vision impairment. It is highly prevalent in individuals of Askenazi Jewish decent.
Now, nearly fifteen years later, Meredyth still pauses as she shares that she has low vision. But a pause is all you’ll get from this driven and passionate woman. She had to retire from her corporate career in 2016 due to the RP, but has since taken on a new role as a disability advocate.
As a divorced, empty nester, she now fights for others who are differently abled. She moved from Virginia to Jacksonville after an introduction to Brooks and our Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program years earlier. “Brooks was 100% the reason I moved back to Jacksonville,” says Meredyth. Her bachelor’s degree was in physical education and she has always tried to stay physically active and fit. She thought the program at Brooks was just what she needed.
Meredyth’s favorite sport is trap shooting. “People get nervous when I say that. A blind woman with a gun,” she jokes. She too was unsure about it when she tried it the first time. “But it’s a sport adapted to my abilities.” She also enjoys golf, kayaking bowling and archery.
Meredyth also credits the Vision Education & Rehabilitation Center (VERC) at FSCJ with providing her the skills she needed to gain independence. As a guide dog user, she and leader dog Luna love working together with their orientation and mobility instructor. She is also now the Accessibility, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Chair for the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ Jacksonville Chapter.
The genetic ophthalmologist who did her original cataract surgery, Dr. Grover with UF Health, also introduced her to Katelyn W. Jordan, OD, FAAO, manager of the Brooks Low Vision Program. Through their collaboration, the doctors provide Meredyth with the best eye care to support and maintain the remaining vision she has. They are also preparing her with the necessary tools and resources for the possibility of complete vision loss.
“Vision loss can impact any and all activities. It is key to take a comprehensive approach, incorporating ophthalmology, low vision services and community resources to help individuals with low vision live full and meaningful lives,” said Dr. Jordan.
“I have a true support network here. The people I’ve met through the Foundation, VERC and Brooks are truly my family now,” said Meredyth.