Sight. The act of seeing. Or lack thereof.
I have the latter… the lack of sight, well partially.
This is the story on how I became legally blind in one eye and how I overcame adversity that comes with partial blindness.
I was in the first grade when I was made aware of my blindness. The school checked all the kids’ eyesight and hearing capabilities each and every year. My hearing was okay, not the best but okay enough. I then take the eye exam.
They start with my left eye and I read the large letters and even all the small letters. Great, good! 20/20 vision.
Then they go to my right eye. They ask me to do the same, expecting similar results. I was stuck on the letter “E”. It looked to me like a black blob surrounded by fuzzy white material.
I said I couldn’t read. She thought I was joking around and she went to a font that was meant for 20/40 vision, and asked me to read that line. I told her again I couldn’t read.
She got frustrated with me, “what do you mean you can’t read?! You just read the letters to me with your left eye!”
I began to cry because I was an A+ student. I had always been very respectful to all teachers and staff and the fact that I couldn’t do this so seemingly simple task was just as frustrating, even humiliating, to me as it was to her.
I then tried again. I tried to read the big letter at the top of the sign and I got fuzzy colors, the fonts blended together into a deep gray abyss. I shook my head and said I couldn’t see it.
The staff sent me home early with a note to my parents that I need to see a doctor as soon as possible.
3 Weeks Later…
My dad took off work to come to the eye doctor with my mom and I. They were very concerned and asked if I was playing a joke and I said no everything is fuzzy. They asked how I saw normally, if things were still fuzzy and I said no, I see fine until I cover my eye.
I relayed this conversation with the doctor and he did the same, humiliating eye exam so it could be proven that I actually could not see.
The doctor then tried to give me lenses to look through with my bad eye and there wasn’t one I could see out of while covering the good eye.
Using the new lenses on my good eye made my eye hurt. It was too strong of a prescription.
The doctor then told my parents that I suffered from amblyopia otherwise known as a lazy eye. They had no idea until the doctor said the diagnosis. The doctor also said I was legally blind in my right eye because my vision couldn’t be corrected with glasses to 20/200.
I was then prescribed an eyepatch to wear at home every evening after school to “train” the bad eye to use the damaged nerves and see again. We knew it would never be perfect, but the goal was to train the eye to see 20/200; the threshold between legally blind and being low sighted.
I also had been given one contact lense for my bad eye so I could wear the contacts and the eye patch at the same time.
Let me tell you, having my mom put in my contacts at the tender age of 7 was traumatizing! It was painful, I didn’t like the lense material it bothered my eyes and I would constantly rub my eyes and have it fall out so I would then have to go through the process of putting it back in again.
I remember being in the second grade, asking the teacher to use the bathroom everyday to “adjust” my contact lense, and then I would go take it out and put the lense in its home.
Joke’s on me because then my teacher would ask me why I put my face so close to my desk and paperwork when I was doing assignments. I just said that’s how I liked to do my work. Then my teacher sent a note home to my parents, so I’m pretty sure everyone figured out my devious plan.
I would go home and try to relax by watching TV and I was forced to wear my eye patch, but I couldn’t see the damn tv with it on so I would just sit and pout, frustrated as all else.
Technology advanced just enough and so did my eyesight through patching that I could upgrade to glasses! Before they didn’t make lenses thick enough to be able to support the glasses frames. I mean, this lense was true coke bottle glasses status, but I didn’t care it finally meant no one would have to shove their fingers in my eyes!
Best part about wearing the eyepatches was that my nana hand sewed each and every one. There must have been 20 or so that I could alternate from. They were all fun patterns and whatnot. It was kind of cool how she made the eyepatches to fit over the glasses lense so I could wear the eyepatch and glasses and the eyepatch wouldn’t move.
Throughout elementary school, I got teased for having my eyes either look up or down when I was talking to someone. Like in my vision, with my sight, I would be making eye contact with the person and they would look at me and I would be looking up.
That still happens to this day. People think I’m personally trying to offend them or disrespect them, but I legitimately cannot look someone in the eye. So if we are talking, I will direct my body at you and position my head so im face level with you, but one eye will always wander because the nerves don’t work.
I was eleven. This was the age that made or break my eyesight. After this age, my vision could never improve so all the patching I did for the past four years had to really make a difference if I ever wanted to drive a vehicle or work certain jobs.
They did the eye exam and my bad eye was now seeing at 20/200. For perspective, my good eye is perfect at 20/20, and I’m not sure where I started at but all I could decipher before were colors. Now if I cover my eye, I can see general objects, no specific details, but I can usually make out a room that I am seeing for the first time.
2010 – Present
So I was still legally blind in my right eye. But I was still able to get a driver’s license (with restrictions), and could work for the government at 19.
Yeah, in order to be a federal civilian employee for a shipyard, you cannot be legally blind in one or both eyes. I went through the hiring process of over a year and a half, and they almost didn’t let me come to work because of my vision.
I was heartbroken because I was so determined to get this job after everyone hyped me up for it and then to lose an opportunity for something I can’t control would be fucked.
Eventually they made a medical exception for me to work in spite of my lack of vision in the one eye.
But there have been jobs I have thought about doing such as getting my CDL, something I legally cannot due to my eyesight. I can’t work for the post office as a driver. I can’t be a bus driver or a pilot.
Fortunately these aren’t things I really wanted to do in my life, but it still is angering that I can’t do something because someone else tells you that you can’t do it.
It’s like: “No, fucker! I’ll tell you what I can and cannot do.”
Diego always asks me about my eye and how I feel about it and I always say what’s wrong with my eye? I usually forget that I am legally blind because I am so reliant on my good eye. It doesn’t feel like a disability because no matter what you go through, it’s gonna be tough but you adapt and overcome.
I feel like there are many more adversities that are greater than the ones I face so who am I to complain? So what if I have a lazy eye? So what if I have Interstitial Cystitis, my bladder disease? So what if I have bipolar disorder? I haven’t let it stop me yet, why would I start now?
Til next time,