Michael: I remember driving back from Yosemite with you - I'm sure this was over twenty years ago. It was after dark, I'd been driving for quite a while, and was really tired. I pulled over and you amiably jumped into the driver's seat of my old van. But after maybe ten minutes you complained that lately you'd been having trouble seeing at night, and felt it was unsafe to continue driving. I remember grudgingly getting back behind the wheel, thinking you were malingering, or at least exaggerating a very minor problem. Was that around the time that you first began to notice some difficulty with night vision?

Joel: Not really. I remember stumbling around in the woods at night as a kid at summer camp, feeling mortified as I realized that the others were navigating quite confidently by the beams of their flashlights. Still, the deficiency never seemed quite dramatic enough to deter me from driving at night, until I was in my mid-twenties. I still felt safe enough in town, amidst the glow of city lights and street lamps, but that sense of security disappeared when I found myself driving along the ocean in fog, or in the deep, impenetrable blackness of the highway home from Yosemite that night, with you.
Michael: How did you learn that your difficulty seeing couldn't be corrected with glasses?
Joel: I'd worn glasses since about first grade, just to correct for nearsightedness. It was completely by accident that I found out about the RP. I Got a killer case of conjunctivitis, you know, "pink eye," went to the U.C. San Francisco Medical Center's Ophthalmology clinic just for that, and the doctor noticed possible indications of the disease on my retinas. He sent me for a round of diagnostic tests as soon as my infection had cleared up. The tests were strange and a little surreal. When I consulted with him about the tests results, that's when I knew.

How much can Joel
see now?