Athlete with vision loss pens book about sight

March 27, 2011 6:58:17 AM PDT
This is the time of the year when runners are training for races, but a former Chicago-area Ironman triathlete with a progressive vision loss is now facing a challenge every day.

Ten-time Ironman Triathlete Michael Stone has a blinding retina degenerative disease called cone-rod.

"It wasn't until probably 2005 that I started to do something about it when I realized that this was a more serious problem. When I received my diagnosis, they just gave it a name. They didn't say that is was going to lead to blindness," said Stone.

"I realized that there was something I was going to have to do, and I told my parents this is something a lot more serious than what we thought it was," he said.

At one time, Michael Stone was intimidated by sports, but after his diagnosis, he found his calling.

"I discovered rock climbing and martial arts, which eventually led me to move to Colorado because I wanted to be closer to the mountains. And when rock climbing became more challenging due to vision-related issues, although I didn't know why, I thought it was just color blindness, I got into running. And then, running led to triathlon, and triathlon took on a life of its own," Stone said.

Triathletes are required to excel in swimming, biking and running. The swim course is difficult because they're buoys that people need to site of which I can't see," he said. "I never get to swim at my full potential. The biking is the most dangerous; that's the one. When I'm off the bike, [I] really look forward to the run because the run is just me, my feet and I can really go by feeling," said Stone.

Stone's best time is under 11 hours.

" It's stop mattering to me at how fast I went. I realized that if I went 10 and half or I went 12 hours, the experience for me was I just felt lucky to be out there," he said.

Michael is not the only one in his family with the condition. His younger brother, Russell, has the same thing.

"My vision and Michael's vision, it's a little slightly different. I think, I feel, that I see better on a day like today when it's very sunny outside. But towards the end of the day, when clouds come in or the sun goes away, I have a lot more difficulty seeing, and at night time, I feel I have limitations," said Russell.

But middle brother, David, does not have the same vision issues.

"I've actually never been tested genetically for that to determine," he said.

At 42, Michael, decided to write a book called Eye Envy: perspectives Into Vision Loss.

"The book is part of my journey. When I started to learn about the disease, there wasn't much to be told," he said.

"So what I did was I went around and interviewed hundreds of people throughout the world, heard their stories how they coped, within an effort that when the next person comes around and gets diagnosed, they can have one place to look for," said Michael Stone.

To learn more about Michael Stone and his book, visit