Blind hockey player Josh Fields excels on and off the ice

Josh Fields may have been born without most of his eyesight, but his vision for achieving his goals is crystal clear.

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – From birth, things were going to be more difficult for the 17-year-old Metro East Lutheran High School student Josh Fields.

But congenital glaucoma was never going to be an excuse for this determined teenager.

According to Center for Disease Control and Preventionglaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve of the eye and can lead to vision loss and even blindness.

About three million Americans suffer from glaucoma.

“I don’t feel like what I have is as bad as some other people with disabilities,” Fields said.

But Fields’ reality is quite different from most of ours.

“When you lose your vision to glaucoma, you lose your field of vision and sometimes it’s hard for us to imagine what it would be like to live in a world where you have tunnel vision,” Dr Michael said. Jones, ophthalmologist. .

“You literally can’t see anything outside of that 10 degree island of vision,” Jones said. “So it’s very disturbing for someone.”

“Now, if you’ve had it long enough, you can make adjustments to live with it,” Jones said.

But just because Fields isn’t able to see things like most people doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a clear vision of his goals.

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Student 4.0, Fields also excels in competition.

He won five junior gold medals Paralympics in Colorado last summer, and currently plays for the St. Louis Blues Blind Hockey Club.

“We’re so proud of him. He’s been sporty from the start,” said his mother, Heidi.

Fields is most at home on the ice.

“His eyes exploded when he saw the ice,” Josh’s dad David said of Josh’s reaction when he went to his first Blues game as a kid.

For the club, Fields plays with a puck three times larger than a normal one National Hockey League (NHL) puck, filled with eight ball bearings to make noise as it hurtles across the ice.

“I can see it from about 15 or 20 feet away, other than that I have to rely on hearing where the puck is and locate it using the vision I have with my hearing,” Fields said.

This teenager has big aspirations for his future in the sport.

“Competing in the Paralympic Games for para-athletics as well as the Paralympic Games for blind hockey when it becomes a Paralympic sport,” Fields said of his goals.

“He doesn’t like to be called an inspiration because it’s just normal for him,” Heidi said. But he inspires me.”

Fields does not plan to back down from a challenge.

“If I do that, I leave people saying I can’t win anything and I can’t do that,” Fields said.

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Catherine J. Martinez