The Outlook from Here

The question gets asked. People wonder about what I can see, what my vision is like. I use a white cane, but I wear glasses, too. I confuse people. The short answer: I’m blind in one eye, low vision in the other.

What does that mean?

It means on my blind side: I have no visual information there, no light perception, no shadows, nothing.

For the eye with low vision, that’s trickier. At my last eye exam, I tested 20/60 on the chart. But I should qualify that.

My peripheral vision is a bit dodgy due to the laser treatments over the years. And, the silicone oil–implanted in the posterior chamber of my eye to hold my retina in place–also creates a distortion, glare issues, and light sensitivity depending on my environment. It’s like looking at a fish tank. Sometimes the colorful Nemos swimming around and the plants and castle and rocks are identifiable, sometimes reflections get in the way and I can’t trust what I see to be accurate.

Seeing with only one eye means poor depth perception. What I perceive to be a flat surface might be a step, I can misjudge things.

Weather conditions and environment factors affect how strong or weak my eye perceives light to be. One day I might see clearly, the next day in the same location with different conditions, I might have a difficult time perceiving, feeling like I’m in a fog.  Annoying for me, but confusing for those who know about my vision impairment. They’re surprised when I can’t see something I’ve noticed before and the reverse.

The kicker is this: everyone who has a visual impairment sees differently. Some people have tunnel vision, but the vision remaining is clear. Some people have blind spots. Some people only have the use of one eye. Some people have light perception but distorted color perception. Some people have night blindness. Some people were born with a visual impairment, some acquired it. For some, vision loss stabilizes, others are continuing to endure gradual loss of sight. It varies.

How about you? What’s your vision like? Has it changed?

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank you for your explanation of the variability of VI. I am going to print it out to show people. I find the problem is that most people have their own view of VI which tends to be stereotypical and they find it hard to step out of the box. In my experience, in the main, it is chilren and younger people who have the imagination to listen to explanations and have a better understanding.I have wet macular degeneration, have lost all central vision in my left eye but have reasonable sight in my right. I am unable to focus without magnifiers. My peripheral vision is good. My sight is fairly foggy and its difficult to explain why I can see a pin on the floor but can’t recognise faces at a distance of more than 3feer unless I already know who it is likely to be. Colour recognition can be difficult. I am having Eyelea injections but my vision is gradually worsening. Technology is wonderful and I love blogs such as yours where people can share their own situations and solutions.

    1. You’re welcome, Bridget. VI can confuse people and there are definitely assumptions/stereotypes out there about what people see who are VI. Your explanation of your vision is clear to me, but we are members of the VI club so I suppose we have the edge for understanding.

  2. Casee says:

    I think the whole issue of vision is misunderstood by the general public. Terms like “legally blind” and being blind but not quite at the legal definition. People hear “low vision” and think you just need a stronger eyeglass prescription. Low vision people are not a part of television or movies, where most people get the information to form an opinion on a subject. Look at what pop culture exposure has done for the gay community. They a marginalized group that in two short decades can now marry in many places. Why? Because of television and movies that allowed people to get to know the group and put aside misconceptions and fear. Low vision needs that kind of pop culture exposure and the blind community as well.

    1. Yes, people like seeing themselves in pop culture and it’s fascinating how certain minorities are marginalized and interesting to see what gatekeepers see as “typical” characters. I was rooting for Growing Up Fisher, but NBC cancelled it. I’d like to think even when shows like Fisher get cancelled, they reached at least some group of people that had no or limited exposure to the blind community. Slowly chipping away at ignorance and creating understanding.

      1. Here in the UK many disability and social issues are dealt with in our soaps, sometimes with humour, but I have never seen VI addressed. Hadn’t realised this until I read these comments. I would like to have seen Growing Up Fisher.

  3. Katherine says:

    I always laugh when I tell people I only see light/dark and colours in my face and then people tell me to go and get glasses to make things look clear, I have to be able to SEE things to be able to make them clearer hahaha

    1. You have to laugh but I wonder why so many people do suggest you get glasses or magnifying glass. Is it a reflex action or some sort of fear?

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