Josh Fields may have been born without most of his sight, but his vision to accomplish his goals is crystal clear.
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — From the moment he was born, things were going to be tougher for now 17-year-old Metro East Lutheran High School student Josh Fields.
But congenital glaucoma was never going to be an excuse for this determined teen.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and even blindness.
About three million Americans have glaucoma.
“I don’t feel like what I have is nearly as bad as some other people who have disabilities,” Fields said.
But Fields’ reality is much different from most of our own.
“When you’re losing vision from glaucoma, you’re losing your field of vision and it’s sometimes hard for us to imagine what it would be like to live in a world where you had tunnel vision,” Eye Surgeon Dr. Michael Jones said.
“You literally can’t see anything outside of that 10-degree island of vision,” Jones said. “So, it’s very disturbing to someone.”
“Now if you’ve had it long enough you can make adjustments to it to live with it,” Jones said.
But just because Fields may not be able to see things like most people, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a crystal-clear vision of his goals.
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A 4.0 student, Fields excels in competition as well.
He won five gold medals at the junior Paralympics in Colorado this past summer, and currently plays for the St. Louis Blues Blind Hockey Club.
“We’re so proud of him. He’s been athletic from the get-go,” his mom, Heidi, said.
It’s on the ice where Fields is most at home.
“His eyes just blew up when he saw the ice,” Josh’s dad, David, said about Josh’s reaction when he went to his first Blues game as a child.
For the club, Fields plays with a puck three times larger than a normal National Hockey League (NHL) puck, filled with eight ball bearings to make a noise as it zooms around the ice.
“I can see it about 15 or 20 feet away, other than that I have to rely on hearing where the puck is and locate it using the vision I have along with my hearing,” Fields said.
This teen has some big aspirations for his future in sports.
“To get in the Paralympics for para-track and field as well as the Paralympics for blind hockey when it becomes a Paralympic sport,” Fields said of his goals.
“He doesn’t like to be called an inspiration because it’s just normal for him,” Heidi said. But he inspires me.”
Fields doesn’t plan on backing down from a challenge.
“If I do that then I’m letting the people that say I can’t do anything win and I can’t do that,” Fields said.
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