Former Mass Eye and Ear patient Ken Brandt was born prematurely and his eyes did not properly develop. In his new book, “Positive Vision: Enjoying the Adventures and Advantages of Poor Eyesight,” Ken shares his life story and encourages others to look on the bright side of life.
Decades after his surgeries, Ken Brandt still credits Mass Eye and Ear with saving his vision. He had two surgeries at Mass Eye and Ear for detached retinas with the late Dr. Ichiro Okamura, one of the pioneers in the field of modern retina surgery. After spending most of his life in the United States, Ken moved to Australia and has resided there since 2006.
Ken’s vision has varied greatly, with a roller coaster of deteriorations and improvements. He has undergone six eye operations, including a detached retina and cataract in each eye. He has been legally blind for large parts of his life, but never wanted to publicly discuss his vision before. He feared it could negatively impact his career or change the way others treated him.
But now, Ken is retired and wants to tell his story. In the book, he shares his life’s humorous anecdotes and adventures and hopes that it will inspire and assist others challenged with poor eyesight.
“There are a lot of books out there that are related to blindness, but I couldn’t find any book about people dealing with poor vision, so I wrote one,” Ken told Focus.
He believes good vision is better than poor vision, but provides lots of examples demonstrating the many advantages of poor eyesight. Ken’s book is full of interesting real-life stories, encouraging quotes, and he admits, some “corny jokes.” His goal is to help readers with poor vision look on the bright side of life, and share more positivity.
“Positive Vision: Enjoying the Adventures and Advantages of Poor Eyesight” is his first book, and Ken found the writing process interesting.
“I spent most of my life working in information technology and risk management, so it was hard to break out of my usual writing style on pieces such as reports and budgets,” he said. “Friends enjoy it when I tell them about my adventures, but putting the information down on paper was a fun challenge.” While plans for his book tour are on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ken maintains his optimistic attitude. “A pandemic is actually a great time to write a book, so that has been a silver lining for me.”
A look to the future
Ken is planning to donate 10 percent of his royalties (5 percent each) to Mass Eye and Ear for eye research as part of the Community Fundraising program, and also to The Fred Hollows Foundation, an Australian charity that works to ensure everyone has access to high quality, affordable eye health care.
As for what’s next, Ken said over the years he has gathered many stories from others about their experiences with poor eyesight, and that could potentially turn into a second project. When he is not writing, Ken is an entertaining speaker and an amateur New Orleans-style jazz trumpeter.
At the end of his book, he shares some advice for others living with poor vision: “First, do everything for your overall health and vision that your doctor and eye doctor recommend (exercise, eat right, wear eye protection, get glasses or contacts, have operations, etc.). Then, relax and be grateful for whatever sight you have. When you decide to go for something, give it a red-hot go! Love the challenges, see the bright side, appreciate the advantages, and enjoy the adventures of poor eyesight.”
Please visit www.kenbrandt.com for more information on Ken’s first book. “Positive Vision: Enjoying the Adventures and Advantages of Poor Eyesight” is available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book at most major online bookstores. The audiobook is set to release soon.