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SDSU Student Copes With Sudden Blindness

Imagine being an average 19-year-old - attending college, participating in a fraternity, enjoying golf - and then losing your eyesight suddenly and without warning.

That's what happened to Jeremy Poincenot who in 2008, when he was a sophomore at San Diego State University, lost his eyesight. After extensive testing, Jeremy was diagnosed with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), a rare and incurable disease that only strikes about 100 people each year.

At first, Poincenot struggled with the sudden and complete turn his life took. He was no longer able to read, drive or recognize familiar faces.

Shortly after he became legally blind, Poincenot said his father asked why he was sleeping in so late every day. His response: "I can still see in my dreams."

Eventually, Poincenot learned to cope with his disease.

“Being diagnosed with a disease that has no treatment and no cure has kind of given me a purpose in life and shoes to fill, to do everything in my power with friends and family and people around me to raise as much money and awareness about LHON as possible,” he said.

Poincenot has raised about $100,000 for his cause through SDSU’s 2010 Greek Week fundraiser, a summer bicycling fundraiser he calls C.U.R.E. (Cycling Under Reduced Eyesight), and his recent appearance on MTV’s True Life Episode: “I’m Losing My Sight.”

He and his family also took their fundraising efforts online.

“We created a website: lhon.org, and people can go on lhon.org to find out more about the disease, to donate, to help with the research and stuff like that.”

And Poincenot hasn't let blindness keep him from the golf course: He became the world champion of blind golfing in 2010.

Despite his struggles, Jeremy has remained positive. "Things could always be worse and that it is really all about attitude,” he added.

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