A car accident in her 20s changed Therese’s life forever, though it wasn’t until years later she would come to realise just how much.
When Therese was in her 40s, she began to notice changes in her vision. It was revealed the effects of the car crash two decades prior were putting serious strain on her optic nerves, causing her eyes to cease working in unison.
In her own words, Therese described it like her eyes “project the correct image, but I [would] see things out of sync with where my body thinks they should be.”
Gradually, Therese also found she could no longer move her eyes without serious pain.
As an artist in her spare time, this came as quite a blow to Therese. She could no longer read sheet music for playing the piano, nor could she read or write.
Therese had three microsurgeries in an attempt to correct the issue. One of these enabled her to keep working for a few more years in her career working with children with disabilities, however any further surgery now poses a significant risk to Therese.
While losing her vision presented some challenges to Therese, the support of Vision Australia has helped her reclaim some of her independence.
Therese initially began navigating with a cane under guidance from a Vision Australia orientation and mobility specialist, however it wasn’t long until she was matched with Seeing Eye Dog Bess, with whom she formed a great bond.
“Bess was amazing,” Therese said.
“Outside the usual things, assisting me to get to place to place, Bess was a safety net.”
“More than that she was so valuable in making me feel included in social situations. I was never ostracised because of my eye problems, but you’re certainly harder to ignore when you have a dog with you.”
Bess retired this year after nine years of service with Therese. Luckily, Therese was able to formally adopt Bess.
Yael, Therese’s newly matched Seeing Eye Dog, is proving to be an amazing follow-up to the incredible Bess after only a month together.
“Yael’s been a godsend because I can keep going out and maintain my independence. He’s quickly learned all my usual routes and is performing extremely well.”
Over the past decade, Therese has become an avid advocate for Seeing Eye Dogs, taking every opportunity to speak with local Rotary clubs, Lions clubs and schools in her area.
“I do these talks as an educational service for other people. The donations I can raise through them go straight back to Seeing Eye Dogs. It’s one of the ways I can give back to the organisation that has helped me so much.”