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Jan 28, 2020

The Way I See It: Glimpses

Blindness is experienced by individuals in unique and various ways. There is no ‘one size fits all’!  In this and subsequent posts, I offer a glimpse into my life as a person living with blindness. 

I am neither a hero nor a victim, simply a human being living within the scope of my strengths and challenges. The way I see it, blindness is simply part of who I am. Many people fear blindness beyond any other affliction. I can assure you that losing one’s sight is not the worst that can happen. While acknowledging the challenges posed for me by blindness, I also want to share some of the strengths and coping skills I have developed because of my low vision.

I am legally blind due to retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited eye disorder, complicated by age-related macular degeneration. Retinitis pigmentosa causes increasingly narrowing peripheral vision (i.e. tunnel vision), while macular degeneration affects the macula (central vision). My left eye perceives only light and dark, form with no detail. My right eye still has some useful vision. I see people and objects as shadows, as in deep twilight. I can detect motion. I cannot recognize faces, even those most familiar to me, nor can I see my own reflection in a mirror. I see most clearly at a distance of about 20 feet, within a narrow field, but I need to scan until I am looking directly at an object in order to see it. I can read and write on my iPad, using several of its accessibility features and apps.  I can no longer devour books visually as I once did but l listen voraciously to books in audio format.

Loss of vision carries with it an emotional response, as do other losses. I have cycled and recycled through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. At times, I do feel sad and frustrated by my blindness, but I refuse to dwell in these states for long. It is possible that there might be, even within my lifetime,  a cure discovered for my specific form of blindness, or technology developed that will enhance my vision to the degree that it is no longer impaired.  There is always that hope. Above all, in my day-to-day functioning, I work at maintaining a positive and grateful attitude. I focus on taking one day, one hour, one minute at a time, savouring or enduring what it holds for me, knowing I have the inner strength and the external support to handle whatever comes my way. 

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