Welcome back to fashioneyesta.com!
It’s been a while since I last posted a blog, truth is I’ve been having some time to myself to take a breather after everything thats been happening lately. I also wanted to spend some time reading and actually reading for pleasure, not for an essay or assignment. Although I must admit I am researching an article for my blog which I hope you will find interesting. But, more on that another time.
Today I wanted to join you all to talk about something which has recently caught my one remaining eye (if you’ll pardon the pun.) The Royal National Institute of Blind People has recently launched a fabulous new video and online campaign under the #HowISee. The campaign has been created to dispel the myth that being registered blind or severely sight impaired means you cannot see anything at all.
Its also a campaign to raise awareness of the vide variety of different levels of vision in the sight loss community and the ways people with different eye conditions see their world. I personally think its a truly fabulous idea as one of the biggest misconceptions I face is that people believe that I’m fully blind just because I work with a guide dog and on occasion, use my decorated, Swarovski encrusted long cane. Sight loss isn’t black and white, there are plenty of grey ares. Just like if someone says that are registered blind doesn’t necessary mean that are fully blind. Its merely a medical term used to diagnose people with significant sight loss, but it doesn’t mean that they have no sight whatsoever.
Today I wanted to give you an idea of how I see the world, to add to this campaign and the discussion surrounding sight loss and how people perceive the world.
I have a condition called Septo Optic Dysplasia and I also have a condition called Nystagmus which causes my eyes to involuntary move and flicker. Which means I cannot focus properly.
So, to begin with I am completely blind in my right eye, when I cover my left eye I cannot see anything. I have no light perception in my right eye, zilch, nada, nothing, zero. That eye is completely and utterly out of action on account that my optic nerves are completely severed between my right eye and my brain.
My left eye, however was a little more fortunate. In my left eye I only have central vision and my depth of field is 6/24 meaning that what you can see at 24 metres I can only see at 6 metres.
The way I describe my sight is its like looking through the lens of a camera with bad autofocus and a very narrow depth of field. When I look at the world its like looking at it through a very slight haze, it doesn’t always focus the way I would like it to. Its as if it focuses on the wrong thing, the focusing point slightly askew. Sometimes its more severe, like when I’m experiencing low blood sugar, when I’m stressed or tired. Its as if my eyes are swirling around in their sockets and its all I can do not to close my eyes to block out the whirlwind that is my vision at that time. When this happened it makes it virtually impossible to read travel information or focus on text. However, sometimes its less severe and I am able to happily go about my business reading travel information, looking at a lunch menu and texting on my phone without the use of speak selection or dictation. As I only have a very narrow amount of vision I can only see whats directly in front of me, rather like if you were to look out of a porthole of boat. Not exactly tunnel vision, but pretty restricted, this when combined with my Nystagmus makes it difficult for me to see things like curbs, steps, overhanging beaches, people, even the most obvious things like wheelie bins become an epic battle for me. Which is why I have my lovely little guide dog to enable me to mobilise independently, without colliding with a person or inanimate object. Even when a person or something is virtually in front of me I still face difficulties seeing them on account of the fact that my Nystagmus makes it difficult for my eyes to remain in one place for any given time.
At night, my remaining sight deteriorates and this combined with my Nystagmus makes going out at night extremely nerve wrecking for me. Colours blur into nothing, things grow murky, bright lights from cars, street lamps, houses and other light pollution play havoc with my Nystagmus. I becomes difficult for me to focus on anything because of the light from different artificial sources. A few years ago going out at night was simply out of the question. At least it was before I had Unity, my guide dog and of course I cannot credit my incredibly friends enough who have proved to be excellent guides when we’ve ventured out on our evening escapades. So thank you to all of my friends who have given me the confidence to go out at night when I can’t take my guide dog, you all know the you are!
Of course there are things I can see, I can see colour, I can see light, I can see print (to a certain extent) it does have to be enlarged to an accessible size, with the help of a very powerful Macro lens I can see fine details on a flower which means I am able to pursue my love of nature photography. I see the world, I may not be able to see it clearly or with ease, sometimes I have to stand and look at a painting in an art gallery for an age until my eyes focus or until I have seen things in more detail with my remaining vision. My sight loss is not perfect by any stretch of the word, if I didn’t have my guide dog I would not be able to do the things I love, if I didn’t have my Mac and iPhone with all their accessible features I wouldn’t be able to work, write, blog or even surf the net.
However, people don’t necessarily realise this because of the fact that my eyes ‘look normal’ according to a lot o the general public. I also hear comments like ‘you don’t look blind’ or ‘but you manage so well you would never know your blind.’ But, as the RNIB’s campaign very amply puts it, being registered blind, using a guide dog, using a long cane or even reading braille doesn’t mean you have no sight whatsoever. Sight loss is a very broad horizon and every looks at that horizon from a different vantage point and can see different elements of that same horizon. Thats what people need to comprehend, there are many grey areas when it comes to sight loss. Just because I am able to see the colours of my lipstick, read an email and read a train timetable (with the help of a visual aid called a monocular.)
Just because a person who has sight loss can see elements of the visual world, it doesn’t necessary mean they’ll be able to perceive everything.
Never judge a book by its cover, never presume to know about a person’s sight and remember to keep an open mind.
I really hope you liked this blog today, I had fun writing it and talking to you about my eyesight in more details. Do feel free to join the conversation and share your thoughts under the #HowISee and lets show people the true and expansive variety of sight loss.