Skip to Content

Low vision clinic offers resources and hope for Veterans with visual impairment

Smiling woman holds a phone without looking at it.
Jewell VA's Low Vision Clinic can help Veterans with visual impairment stay active in life and connected with loved ones by making life adjustments. You don’t have to be left behind.

U.S. Air Force Veteran Eulla Curry, who lost her sight in 2014, has strong opinions about the blind and low vision rehabilitation services offered at Jewell VA Clinic in Aurora, Colorado.

“I love it. It’s the best program the government has come up with for people like me,” she said. “So many times, you get ignored and shoved to the side when you’re visually impaired. They put you right up front. You don’t have to be left behind.”

Adjusting to life with low vision
Curry served her country for 20 years before retiring in 1993 because of retinitis pigmentosa, a slow-progressing disorder that began impacting her vision.

“It took almost 40 years for me to go totally blind,” she said. 

After a divorce in 2008, Curry moved from Mississippi to join family in Colorado. As her eyesight diminished, she felt as if she had lost everything. 

Then, in 2009, her VA doctor referred her to the low vision clinic at Jewell VA. 

“I needed assistance getting restarted with lack of vision,” said Curry. “It was like a rehab center – teaching computers, phone usage, using a cane and navigating the streets.”

She credits the clinic with helping her learn to live a better life without sight. 

“You can do all the things you’ve always done,” she said. “You just have to learn to do them differently, and it’s good to know this program is out there.” 

A unique opportunity for training and skills
When Curry fully lost her vision in 2014, she said life got more difficult.

“At the Jewell Clinic, they show you how you can still participate,” she said. 

Curry did just that. As part of the low vision clinic’s recreational therapy program in 2023, she and five other visually impaired Veterans embarked on a five-day adventure of kayaking, bocci ball, frisbee golf, exercise and a visit to an herb garden.

“You learn a lot, meet people and really have fun,” said Curry. “It shows that losing your sight does not have to be the end of the world. You can still accomplish things and have a good time.”

VA resources for visual impairment
February is Low Vision Awareness Month, which brings attention to age-related macular degeneration and diseases affecting the eyes that could lead to visual impairment. 

VA is committed to helping Veterans with visual impairment regain independence, and offers several rehabilitation and care coordination services at the Jewell Clinic, including:

  • Training to maximize independence outside and within the home. 
  • Home safety evaluations to minimize in-home hazards.
  • Low vision therapy, which offers skills training for using tools, such as magnifying devices, for reading or watching television.
  • Support and counseling related to vision impairment.
  • Assistance with eligibility and enrollment, and determining benefits that fit Veterans’ needs.

Practical and ongoing support
“VA has really gone a long way to helping me become more independent,” said Curry. “They train me and help keep my house safe.”

VA staff learned of a tripping hazard in Curry’s bathroom and helped her get a grant to remodel the floor with ceramic tiles, eliminating the danger. 

Curry loved reading before losing her sight. VA helped her recover this pastime by providing a Victor Reader Stream, a device that allows her to access and play audio content, including downloading e-books.

“I can read to my heart’s content,” she said. 

This 69-year-old also learned to control her computer and cell phone using voice activation. 

“I heard ‘if you stop learning, you stop living,’” said Curry. 

Moving forward with hope
Her family and instructors at the low vision clinic keep Curry moving in the right direction, toward independence.

“Even when I screw things up so bad on my computer or phone, I can call them,” she said. “They are always willing to help.”

To learn more about Jewell VA Clinic’s low vision clinic and visual impairment support programs, please call 303-283-5369.

- - - - -

April Love is a writer-editor on the VISN 19 Creative Task Force. She began working for VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System in 2016 and lives in Aurora, Colorado.