Hi! My name is Noël Jones. I’m a learning designer who was born with two binocular vision disorders. No one knew about that second part until recently--not even me. My struggle to process visual information has been a lifelong mystery and has impacted my life in significant ways. It's a big part of what inspires my work as a learning designer because I want to make life easier for others with learning disabilities. I’m reaching out to ask for your help to get the treatment I need and to help raise awareness that vision disorders often coincide with or are misdiagnosed as ADHD.
THE GOOD NEWS
Getting to the bottom of this mystery has been an isolating and lonely quest. But last month, after being correctly diagnosed with ocular motor dysfunction and convergence insufficiency, I got fantastic news from my optometrist: these vision disorders are curable with vision therapy. I burst into tears. The thought of breaking free of this daily struggle forever was overwhelming.
As terrific as it is to finally have an answer--and to know that these invisible obstacles are curable--my treatment will be a long and expensive process, and vision therapy isn’t covered by insurance.
Asking for help isn’t easy. But GoFundMe offers us a chance to be part of a community of caring people who help each other when we need it most, so no one is left to struggle in isolation. Together, we can make a meaningful difference in each other’s lives. It’s not hyperbolic to say that this healthcare treatment will be life-changing for me.
I see the world in double vision. Wild, right? What's even more wild is that until I got formally assessed by Dr. Kelsey Frederick at Lyons Family Eye Care in Chicago, I didn’t know because it’s always been my “normal.”
[Me, growing up in Alaska…maybe I thought I had more fish on that stick LOL!]
Reading, for me, has always happened one word at a time. It looks kind of like this. The effort required to force my eyes to align and focus quickly exhausts my eyes and brain. I start falling asleep if I don’t take breaks to look away after each paragraph. And when I force myself to read for long stretches at a time, I often get ocular migraines.
My eyes also don’t track properly. They often get lost on a page, and I have to back up to reread lines over and over, kind of like this.
When people talk about their book clubs, I cringe inside. I want to join one so badly, but I turn down invitations because I don't want to disappoint other readers by falling behind. When I tell people I love poetry because it's short, they laugh without realizing that I'm only half-joking.
You know how some people like to ask, if you could have one superpower, what would you choose?
Well, I’d be a fast reader. I have family members who can read a novel in a day. And while I'm proud of what I've accomplished in my work and education through sheer will, I can’t imagine how many more books I would consume if I could read at normal speed. To be a fast reader would be a fantasy come to life.
[Thanks to my friend Nicky Enright for capturing my superhero fantasy!]
THE HARDEST PART
Technical writing (any page where boxes and blank spaces break up the text) is even harder for me to read than prose. It requires brute force and extreme concentration to focus my eyes, track the text, and decipher the information. Forms, spreadsheets, financial statements, instruction manuals, unfamiliar websites...maps, menus...the list of everyday things that involve this internal wrestling match is long.
Navigating directories, signage and readerboards in malls, airports or train stations is disorienting and frustrating; the traveling I’ve done has been through sheer determination. And I don’t drive a car because it’s stressful trying to decipher road signs and make decisions on the highway before moving past them, when they look kind of like this.
But with your help, in less than a year from now, I'll be able to focus effortlessly and do things other people don't think twice about--with ease rather than force. Read a novel, drive a car, finesse my finances, learn new design software, submit grant applications to fund design projects…the possibilities are endless!
WHAT IS VISION THERAPY?
Vision therapy is kind of like calisthenics for your eyeballs. Fixing my eyes will be hard work, involving weekly office visits for nine months with my vision therapist, Phoebe Stolzenberger, and daily homework between sessions, using a vision therapy kit at home. And I’m all in:
[Vision therapy kit]
WHY IS VISION THERAPY EXPENSIVE?
9 months of weekly vision therapy = $5,544
Examinations and assessments = $1,129
Vision therapy kit = $350
Computer program for homework = $150
Total = $7,173
That’s $7,173 that I don’t have. This is hard to share publicly, but like 63% of Americans, I’ve been living check to check since the beginning of Covid. But now that I see the light at the end of this tunnel, I’m willing to max out every credit card I have to get as much vision therapy as I can for a chance to gain—after decades of struggling—what will feel to me like waking up with superpowers.
THE SCARY PART
While going into more debt right now is scary, that’s not what I’m most afraid of. The questions that keep me up at night are, “What if I can’t afford to complete vision therapy? What if I max out all my credit cards and run out of money before my eyes are fixed?”
That's why I'm hoping, with your help, to raise the first $3,000 by Christmas to cover the up-front costs and therapy already underway.
WAYS YOU CAN HELP
With your help, I can take on this challenge of a lifetime and be cured—once and for all. I know finances are challenging for many of us right now, so I'm truly grateful for anything you can contribute toward my treatment. No amount is too small.
You can also help by sharing a link to this GoFundMe page with anyone you think might be interested in supporting and sharing the hashtag #VisionTherapyForNoel with anyone touched by ADHD who might not know about its overlap with vision disorders.
Every donation will be deeply appreciated and move me one step closer to a new and inspiring life. I’ll be unstoppable, eternally grateful to you, and even more able to help others as a learning designer. And no matter what I accomplish and who I help in the future, you’ll know you were a part of it.
So, if you’re able to help me get this life-changing treatment, please make a donation and share #VisionTherapyForNoel with anyone you think might be interested.
With your help, I'll soon be able to read giant books like this!
Deep thanks in advance from the bottom of my heart~
- Velma Williams
- Michiko Urata
- Dennis Lieb
Fundraising team (6)
Raised $1,575 from 19 donations
Raised $1,185 from 11 donations
Raised $520 from 2 donations
Raised $155 from 4 donations
Nils Folke Anderson
Raised $40 from 1 donation