When Artie Poggi was diagnosed with glaucoma, he expected good care from the doctors who treated him. But he did not get the treatment he needed until he came to Lighthouse International for help.
Many of the doctors Artie consulted with offered laser treatment as the solution to all his problems. When he finally decided to try laser surgery on one eye, the results were devastating. “My vision went all the way down in that eye,” he said.
Afterwards, Artie became frustrated and disillusioned. “I just got disgusted,” he said, “and I stopped taking [my] medicine.”
Shortly after, Artie’s health faded and he suffered congestive heart failure. “I was supposed to die,” he admits.
Artie survived but lost most of his vision in the process, forcing him to close the three florist shops he owned on Long Island, NY. “I couldn’t see the flowers,” he said. “I couldn’t even write the contracts.”
He then fell into a deep depression. “I was scared to go out of the house,” he admits. “I was afraid of everything. I lost all my self-confidence.”
That’s when a friend of Artie’s told him to go to Lighthouse International. “I called and the social worker told me, ‘I know you’re scared and nervous, but I promise you, help is on the way.’ And I’ll tell you, it really was.”
Artie worked with Dr. Bruce Rosenthal, Chief of Low Vision Programs at Lighthouse International, on controlling his glaucoma. Artie now uses three types of glaucoma drops to maintain the pressure in his eyes. He also worked with an Orientation and Mobility Specialist to learn how to travel independently and maneuver around his home. “It wasn’t until I went to the Lighthouse that I got good care,” he said.
After receiving treatment at Lighthouse International, Artie’s life began to turn around. With a newfound confidence, he broke through his depression and opened his own food distribution company, Poggi International Food.
Inspired by the services he received at Lighthouse International, Artie is now determined to help people with low vision avoid the same pitfalls he experienced. “The Lighthouse helped me a lot,” he said, “so you have to give something back.”
Through his company, Poggi International Food, Artie is working on a line of Southwestern-style food products with former NFL quarterback, Jim Plunkett. The company is donating a percentage of the profits from each product to Lighthouse International.
Artie is also working on opening a cash-and-carry warehouse on Staten Island. His dream is to dedicate an entire section of the warehouse to hiring visually impaired employees. “These people will be able to get out and work,” he said. “There’s no reason why they can’t live a normal life by earning their own money.” He even wants to turn the entire business over to the employees in the future. “If you help other people, it’s a lot more rewarding,” he said. “Money is secondary. If you ever got to the spot where you were about to go blind, you could understand.”
Artie came to Lighthouse International and got the treatment he needed and the inspiration to give back. “I went to the Lighthouse and it was like I got a new lease on life,” he said. “That’s why I want to try and help other people do the same.”
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