Sometimes, it’s easy to take our vision for granted. Vision is our most dominant sense. We rely on it for just about everything and rarely need to think about what would happen if we lost this precious gift of sight. In the last few months, this topic has hit home with me in a very personal way. My close friend, who is a graduate student, suicide crisis counselor, avid reader, husband and father to two boys has recently lost his sight. I asked him to share his experiences first hand:
“Since the complete legally blind diagnosis only came to me less than a month ago, the coping is still coming. For me, it might have helped that I was already blind in my left eye from a previous retinal detachment. In the meantime, it has been key for me to keep busy and not dwell on the negative. Contacting the Department for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI) was one of the first things we did. The DBVI have been amazing with a turn around time of two to three days, at the most. They have given me access to technology such as a portable CCTV/video magnifier and a regular CCTV/video magnifier – both have made my life easier. They will be providing me with my white cane and mobility training, as well. I have signed up for bookshare and started using an on screen magnifier, which have also helped.
I think for me, the biggest things that have helped me cope will be returning back to school, work and my internship. It will be good to keep busy so I don’t dwell on the topic of my blindness all the time. It has been suggested I also see a counselor, which I may do in the future.
One thing most people don’t realize is that this is a loss. I have been going through the different stages of grief, mostly anger and sadness. I think of all the things I am never going to see. I am not going to get to teach the boys how to drive or “see” them graduate high school. Then, I remind myself that it could be a lot worse. There are always worse scenarios and I just keep reminding myself of that. Of course, my wife and the boys have been very supportive and encouraging.
No matter what, life goes on, and sometimes you get hit with a curve ball, but that doesn’t mean life has to stop.
If something is bothering your eyesight, don’t delay. I assumed the black patch and flashing light in my eye was due to being tired and stressed. Instead, it was a retinal detachment.
Go to your eye doctor immediately. Had I done that, then I might still have vision in my left eye.
If you are facing this challenge either for yourself or a loved one, contact your COA Optometrist for available resources in your area. And remember to have your eye exam every year, so that your doctor can detect any potential vision threatening conditions early.