Hi! My name is Tricia Waechter and I have retinitis pigmentosa (RP). It’s a genetic eye disease and right now I have about 10 percent of my vision left. The vision that I have left is central vision; I don’t have peripheral vision left. All of the quadrants of both of my eyes of peripheral vision have been damaged by RP.
RP happens in your retina. Your retina is supposed to be like a white screen, or a blank movie theater screen, and for anyone like myself who has RP, our retinas are covered with areas I describe as spider webs - areas that are dark and covering the blank screen that would usually allow light in. Wherever those spiderwebs build up, those with RP don’t have sight. Over time, I’ve gotten more spiderwebs.
So, what does having RP mean for me? Well, to start, it means I can’t see below me, above me, or beside me. It means I can’t see in the fog, in the dark, in the sunrise or in the sunset. It means that in bright light I can see with my central vision, that’s where I do have sight.
All of that brings us to what I’m doing now. My background is as a merchant and my career has been has been as a merchant in fashion. I recently moved from the New York City area to Texas, and during that move, I discovered that my vision has rapidly decreased. I realized that I am unable to work in my field - fashion - or work in a fashion house because, due to my decreased vision, I don’t have the mobility I used to because I now use a guide cane; I don’t have power to look at screens all day or look at lines of product on walls because it is difficult to focus my eyes for long periods of time; and it’s difficult for me to interact with large groups of people. With the loss of vision, I’ve also lost a lot of ability to discern people’s faces.
However, I’m not going to let RP stop me from doing what I love. I am creating a new line of clothing and accessories that will allow me to use the skills I have but within the reality of my current life. I am creating a business and fashion line that doesn’t require me to be extremely mobile, interact with a ton of people or review big product lines. I developed Blind Girl Designs to allow me to continue to pursue my love of fashion and continue working in the field I love. Hopefully I’ll be able to continue to work in my field through Blind Girl Designs, and make products that other people will like and that I will like and get to wear.
So, that’s how we got here. That’s how Blind Girl Designs came to be. I’m excited to share my journey and story with you.