Driving to work one day in 2008, Jeff Nova suddenly lost sight in his left eye.
“It was so sudden,” says Nova, a financial advisor in RBC Wealth Management's Fort Lauderdale, Fla. office. “My vision went out like a rubber band snapping or a curtain closing at the end of a play.”
Nova later learned the cause was diabetic retinopathy, a condition that causes vision loss and possible blindness in people with diabetes. He was diagnosed with diabetes when he was just two years old.
He learned to live with the loss of sight in the eye for six years until he also lost sight in his right eye in 2014.
To try and restore some of his vision, Nova began a series of 10 surgical procedures to reattach his retina. With one procedure every four weeks—in addition to recovery time—he was out of the office for a total of eight months. But with support from RBC Wealth Management and his team in Fort Lauderdale, Nova has rediscovered his passion for serving clients, despite losing his sight.
Building confidence and adapting to a new situation
Following his surgeries, Nova can now see shadows, but very little light and no color. With such severely impacted vision, he feared people would question his capabilities when he went back to work. However, upon his return to the office, a group of his clients showed up to offer their support. That boost of confidence not only helped Nova dive back into his work, but motivated him to channel his energy into being more productive than ever before.
”Despite losing my vision, I feel like I've improved my accuracy, attention to detail and overall ability to do my job as a financial advisor,” Nova says.
RBC Wealth Management human resources helped get Nova set up in his office, equipping him with the tools and assistance he needs to perform all the necessary functions of his role. To help with his low vision, he uses voice-over technology for his computer, a keyboard with larger keys, and sends most of his emails by using the talk-to-text feature on his iPhone.
The support he's received from the firm and his colleagues has meant the world to him, Nova says.
“I don't know if I would've received the same kind of assistance with any other firm,” he adds. “Everyone here is so personable and engaged. I just vocalize my needs and they help me figure out solutions.”
Finding joy in new hobbies
Getting back to work wasn't the only change Nova needed to tackle after his surgeries. He used to enjoy mountain biking and boxing, but since both of those activities require sight, he had to find new hobbies to enjoy during his free time. Now, he's uncovered skills he never knew he had. He took guitar lessons to learn his favorite '70s rock hits, and has labeled himself “the world's worst guitar player.” He's also become an avid listener of audio books and podcasts, which he says have helped increase his knowledge of the financial services industry.
“I was so sad, frustrated and angry at first,” Nova says. “But I realized I can overcome just about anything as long as I put my mind to it.”
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