By B.C. Manion
Lucina Radd lives in constant fear that she’ll go to sleep one night and wake up the next morning in a world that has gone completely dark.
She’s already lost the vision in her left eye and her field of vision in her right eye is diminishing.
The Wesley Chapel woman was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa nine years ago, a condition that involves the gradual decline in vision because the photoreceptors, known as rods and cones, die.
Until recently, the 49-year-old has been living in denial – but now she is trying to come to terms with her condition. In a major first step she has signed up to walk in the 3rd annual Tampa Bay VisionWalk Nov. 13 at Al Lopez Park, 4810 N. Himes Ave., in Tampa.
The walk raises money for Foundation Fighting Blindness Inc., a national organization that funds research to prevent, treat and cure conditions that cause vision loss and blindness.
She also wants to start a support group for people with vision impairment who live in the Wesley Chapel area.
Lucina’s declining vision has changed nearly every aspect of her life, said Tony Radd, her husband of 32 years.
It has limited what she is able to do with the couple’s twin 23-year-olds, Brittany and Kyle, and the couple’s granddaughter, 1-year-old Aleina.
Lucina, once a software development manager, has not worked in that field for years. She can no longer drive. She has trouble doing simple, everyday tasks that she used to take for granted.
She used to love to shop for groceries.
“Now, when I walk down an aisle, I have to scan every single item. I can’t look at both sides of the aisle and see what’s on the other side,” she said.
When she’s home and wants to cook, Tony has to help.
“If I have two pots going, I can’t watch both of them. I caught the stove on fire,” she said, noting it’s a good thing Tony was there.
“The cabinets are a big issue because they are dark inside. Even just getting a pot out is a major ordeal,” she said.
Cleaning off the counters is a problem, too, because Lucina can only see small portions at one time.
If someone puts something on the counter – which her son, Kyle, is apt to do when he’s home for a visit – it’s not unusual for Lucina to knock it off, she said.
She enjoys being outdoors, but no longer feels safe sitting alone in her backyard because she knows there are occasional snakes there and a gator lives in the pond.
She can’t watch her granddaughter on her own, either.
Lucina can no longer sew, and while she still enjoys painting, she worries that will end one day too.
Just getting ready to go out for dinner is challenging.
It used to be easy to match her clothes, shoes and accessories and to put on her makeup.
“Now, it’s hard to distinguish the colors or find clothes that match,” she said. When she puts on her makeup, she relies on her sense of touch.
It used to take about 15 minutes to get ready; now it’s more like an hour and 15 minutes.
The couple’s options for having fun are more limited too.
They used to go on long drives to enjoy the scenery, but they don’t do that anymore. Tampa Bay Rays baseball games, Tampa Bay Buccaneers football games, movies and dancing are out too.
“Everything involves sight,” Lucina said.
Even conversing with people is more difficult, she said. “I feel like I can’t communicate as well because I can’t make good eye contact with people,” she said. “It diminishes your spirit. You can’t see people’s expressions.”
As her eyesight worsened, she became depressed and withdrawn, Lucina said.
“You isolate yourself. You don’t fit in the world.”
People don’t understand her condition because she doesn’t wear dark glasses, walk with a cane or use a guide dog, Tony said.
Lucina said she used to hide her condition because she wanted to remain independent. Now, she hopes that getting involved with VisionWalk and reaching out to organizations that can help her will enable her to reach out to help others.
Tony is right there with her. He said he has often told his wife: “You may lose your sight, but life goes on and there are beautiful things in life.”
Lucina hopes that steps she’s taking will set her on a new path.
“I lived in this depression and isolation, which is not the person I am. I want to be back to the happy person I was,” Lucina said. “I really honestly hope I can make a difference for someone else.”
To contact Lucina about starting up a support group, you can e-mail her at or call her (813) 994-6521. To join her team or sponsor her in the VisionWalk go to www.Fightblindness.org/goto/LucinaRadd.