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Janette is legally blind from congenital glaucoma, and although she was visually challenged due to her glaucoma from a young age, Janette showed special promise with her musical skills.
She made her official singing debut at the National Theater of Dominican Republic where she shared the stage with some of the most important artists in her country. Glaucoma Research Foundation invited Janette to perform at our Glaucoma 360 Annual Gala on February 2, 2017 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco and accept our 2017 Visionary Award. We interviewed Janette before the gala to learn more about her story, her struggles, and her inspirations.
Janette Márquez: I’ve dealt with glaucoma, oh, practically my whole entire life. School was very complicated, just because unfortunately sometimes the school systems don’t necessarily have the tools or want to accommodate you.
With glaucoma, change might be slow, and researchers say, or doctors say that the change is slow, but when you have such an active life, it feels very rapid, and you feel when, three years back, you could see better, and then you’re struggling. You’re changing. You have to constantly be adapting and confronting certain issues, surgeries. That could seem normal and safe and harmless, but they can be traumatic when you want to achieve something.
I wish people knew that glaucoma is not as easy as it physically may seem. “Oh, she just needs a cane,” and that’s it. I wish people knew that it does really affect your life. I wish people knew that there are situations where you have to sometimes give up some sort of plan that you had and you have to just go roll with the punches. I wish people knew just more so that people could really understand us and understand that what we go through is not easy. It may seem easy, because whatever we have to deal with, we deal with it, and we go ahead, and we live life as best we can, but it really does affect us.
Blindness, when you’re blind, you’re blind, but when you go through that process before you get there, people don’t understand it, and I’m not completely blind. I will not say that, because it’s hard either way, but people don’t understand that there are changes, vision changes, and you have to adapt to it.
My advice to those people who have glaucoma, whether it’s congenital, whether it surprisingly showed up in your life, just talk about it. Tell people. Don’t keep it to yourselves just because it might not be more severe than other cases. Talk about it because it’s a change and it affects your life.
I always think you can’t change the world, but you can change lives, and if I can convince one person to either donate, contribute, or join this movement, I’m going to try my best to do that, because I want someone to, once and for all, to understand me.
My hope for the future is that foundations like GRF find better ways for us to be treated for glaucoma so that it doesn’t have to interfere so much of our life in such a traumatic way, just to find a cure, not only for myself, but for those kids who are unfortunately born with this condition. It’s so comforting to know that someone cares and someone’s doing something about it, and it makes a difference, because it gives me hope and strength to keep working, to keep doing what I’m doing, because someone cares.
I have glaucoma. With your help, the cure is in sight. Together, we can create a future without glaucoma.
Last reviewed on June 23, 2017