Veteran Leaves the Marines Due to Vision Loss

November 11, 2020

Guillermo Lopez III is a 27-year-old veteran, advocate and entrepreneur who was diagnosed with a genetic eye disease while serving in the United States Marine Corps Reserves.   

From 2012 to 2016, Guillermo served in the Marines as an infantry mortarman. In 2015, he noticed his vision was weakening but assumed it was the result of a stressful week or that he just needed a stronger glasses prescription. However, in November of that year, he began noticing problems with his depth and distance perception while he was driving. Realizing how serious the situation had gotten, Guillermo sought medical attention. He was later diagnosed with Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), and as a result, was medically released from the Marine Corps. While the experience was incredibly difficult, in Guillermo’s words:

When one door closes, another opens

Life After the Marines 

Following his medical release, Guillermo went back to school to complete his bachelor’s degree in recreational therapy at Texas State University. His sight loss made his learning experience rather difficult as he was unable to get accommodations in a timely manner. However, as challenging as his new reality had become, Guillermo persevered. He credits the Marines for his mental fortitude, which has allowed him to overcome adversity.

It’s what you are able to learn in that moment that sets you up to be a stronger person in the future.

Receiving eSight

In November of 2019, eSight partnered with Dell Technologies to gift 22 Austin, Texas residents an eSight 3 and the opportunity to attend a live performance of The Nutcracker. Guillermo was one of the 22 residents, and thanks to his new eSight 3, he was able to enjoy the performance without any difficulty or strain on his eyes.

Life after eSight

Since then, Guillermo has seen the significant impact eSight has had on his life. In his last few years of college, his eSight allowed him to take control of his learning and helped him feel more connected to his classmates and professors.

Just being able to look around the classroom and see what my classmates and the classroom looked like was just really amazing.

Upon completing college, Guillermo started a business called Bob’s Containers with his partner. Together, they transform old shipping containers into tiny homes and offices. Knowing his customers are sure that Guillermo can get the job done, thanks in part to his eSight, allows him to feel more comfortable and confident at work. Not to mention, eSight makes it much easier to showcase products to potential customers. 

All in all, eSight has allowed him to do the things he enjoys with ease. Whether it’s traveling, cooking, going to live events, or hanging out with friends and family; in his words, his eSight has made him feel truly blessed and more connected to the people around him.

Becoming an advocate for the low vision community

Guillermo’s use of eSight motivated him to combine his love of fitness with his passion for supporting the low vision community. Working with a friend – who also has LHON – Guillermo runs a fitness center for people with visual impairments. 

Seeing that many coaches don’t know how to properly train athletes with disabilities or take the time to do so, the program provides clients with proper adaptive coaching. This ensures individuals receive safe training that also challenges them to be the best they can be; reminding people with visual impairments, that they are capable of accomplishing great things.

The facility also hosts community days, where they invite people from the sighted community to play sports with individuals with low vision. Community days are Guillermo’s way of advocating on behalf of the low vision community and educating sighted people about the amazing capabilities of individuals with low vision or legal blindness. Many low vision athletes become so comfortable and proficient playing these sports that sighted people can’t tell that they are playing against people with low vision. This is because Guillermo and his partner have taught their athletes how to play various sports, given their eye condition. 

We saw that there was a disconnect between athletes with disabilities and able-bodied athletes, and our goal is to close that gap… It really is just an awesome initiative, the inclusiveness and integration of these kids, is really amazing and it’s such a heartwarming experience.

What the future looks like 

Guillermo never lets his sight loss stop him from living his best life. As he continues to grow his business and run the fitness program, he remains motivated to raise awareness about the importance of inclusion and the incredible adaptability of people with low vision and legal blindness.

This is mine and so many other people’s reality. I want people to know that our sky is just as limitless as anyone else’s in the world

Did you enjoy reading Guillermo’s story as a visually impaired entrepreneur and veteran? Read more here about blind veteran, Larry Kupner, and his plans with his eSight.