San Juan, PR – Abarcans are always stepping outside of their comfort zone, continually challenging themselves to better understand the conditions and issues afflicting the patients they serve.
As part of this humble effort, Abarcans participated in Cena a Ciegas, a blind dinner hosted by the Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation of Puerto Rico, a non-profit organization with a mission to raise awareness of blindness and visual impairment, namely the condition known as Retinitis pigmentosa (RP). RP is a group of rare, genetic disorders that involve a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina—which is the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. Common symptoms include difficulty seeing at night and a loss of side (peripheral) vision.
Cena a Ciegas was created as part of the non-profit’s greater mission to not only raise awareness of the condition but to offer a small glimpse into the difficulties and challenges people living with sight impairments deal with on a daily basis.
The one and a half hour coursed dinner required that the attendees experience the entire night blindfolded. The menu items were described by the waiter, though beyond that, the guests were completely unaware of what they were eating or what was in front of them. “Touching the plate all the time is very important to get to the right place and, incredible but true, it was also difficult to find your mouth,” mentioned Nayda Rivera, Director of Government & Industry Partnership and head of the Better Care Community Program at Abarca.
“Never did I imagine how much losing one sense would effect on what I consider to be ordinary, almost automatic daily tasks. Small things became challenges; every step had to be thought through and had a purpose of being, luckily, the Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation was there to give us a few tips that helped us along the way. For me, this dynamic and the testimonials given by people who have the condition were a great way of getting our attention and bringing awareness,” concluded Rivera.
If you or someone you know is living with RP or a visual impairment, the American Foundation for the Blind offers resources to help you find low vision specialists, services and essential information. Likewise, Vision Aware is an organization that helps adults with faltering sight continue to live full and independent lives by providing: timely information, step-by-step daily living techniques, a directory of national and local services, as well as a supportive online community.
Abarcans go all in when it comes to understanding the patients they serve and hope that in doing so, they will inspire others to challenge themselves to do the same in their everyday lives.