I want to take a little time to fully explain my eyesight issues. People ask. They want to understand. Which is tough because I don’t understand. Not fully, anyway.
At the simplest level, I am legally blind. Not Helen Keller blind, mind you, but within the legal restrictions of what is considered blindness. I can see shapes and movement even without my glasses, but there is absolutely no clarity for anything more than eight inches from my nose.
So I wear glasses, which most people (from their own experience) think should put me at or close to 20/20. Not so. The real issue with my eyes is in the retina, the back of the eye, where little can be done. My retinas never fully developed. My eyesight is about 20/80 with my glasses on.
(Glasses are better than contacts, though. When I had contacts, motherfuckers were always telling me I needed glasses. You know, like I might not have noticed.)
There is no surgery to fix my sight. Laser surgery would remove my need for glasses but leave my overall sight unchanged. There are some experimental surgeries being done for patients with more severe forms of my condition. (“Your eyes are too good for that surgery,” a doctor told me. No one had ever used that phrase with me before…)
A doctor at Johns Hopkins suggested I use a cane while out in public. I declined–for now anyway. It may come to that. But I will be investing in a chinchilla fur coat and a wide-brimmed hat to augment my cane when the time comes.
I’d like to have a Seeing Eye Dog. My cats would probably not. Hopefully, this will be far enough in the future that the cars are dead. I would have to do cane training first. They probably won’t want to be around me anyway if I’m always smacking them with a cane as I walk down the hall.
But there are good things, too. I can’t see well enough to be given detailed cleaning work around the house. I don’t have to give state tests at work.
And most importantly, I am never the designated driver.