Eye Health News

Stargardt won't hinder his dreams

Rhett Gutierrez is a reserve quarterback for the Standley Lake Gators but what sets this high school junior apart from other football players is he has Stargardt's disease which is an inherited juvenile macular degeneration that causes progressive vision loss to the point of becoming legally blind. Gutierrez's vision loss has plateaued and he is now legally blind. After his parents and teachers noted his declining vision, Rhett was diagnosed in 2006 with the disease. When on the field, Rhett relies on his knowledge of predetermined layouts when he is taking snaps or working on passes. He is a starter on the junior varsity team and has thrown for two touchdowns. Rhett even got to finish up for the varsity team with a hand-off to a teammate. Rhett's determination has been an inspiration to his coaches and teammates. Despite being a third string player, he received 15 votes to be team captain. Not only does he not let his condition slow him down on the field, he continues to excel in the classroom with a 4.3 grade-point average and is being considered as a candidate for valedictorian. His college plans include looking at Stanford or Harvard or possibly the University of Denver in his home state of Colorado. Elise Ervin Staff Writer

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