At 32 years old, Milwaukeean Phil DiMeo was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa – an inherited, degenerative eye disease that leads to severe vision impairment, and often complete blindness.
But for 14 years, DiMeo hid the diagnosis from all but a handful of people, and continued to work and live his life as though there was nothing wrong with his sight.
"I still thought maybe I didn’t have it. I thought maybe – because I was also diagnosed with cataracts, and I thought maybe it was really the cataracts, even though I was diagnosed with RP. I didn’t believe it, and I didn’t want to stop driving, I was really stubborn," says DiMeo.
But eventually even his stubbornness couldn't conceal his condition, or keep him out of dangerous situations his sight impairment led to - many auto accidents and physical injuries.
DiMeo is now blind and uses his experience to help others.
DiMeo, and his guide dog Tessie, stopped by Lake Effect to discuss his memoir, Binoculars, and why he worked so hard to hide his vision loss: