8 Things I Wish People Understood About My Vision Loss

Also similar to aging, most people don’t just wake up one day and realize they’re a senior citizen. You realize you’re aging at various points in your life, sometimes because of an event such as a milestone birthday, but other times you just notice yourself looking or feeling older from time to time.

Typically, vision loss is similar for me. There are times I’ve gone to the eye doctor and have been surprised at my change in vision because I hadn’t noticed it happening to the extent that it dropped, despite the fact that I could tell it was worsening. Other times, I notice the drop and am not surprised in the least when the ophthalmologist shows me my test results.

7. Some of us use mobility aids like canes and dogs, and some of us don’t.

There can be people who have the exact same vision who move about the world completely differently. There can be two people who both have 19 degrees of vision, deeming them both “legally” blind, and one of them uses a white cane while the other walks around without any mobility tool. If there is someone in your life who you feel should be using a mobility assistance but doesn’t, it’s usually a realization they need to come to on their own.

Even among those who are completely blind, not everyone uses a cane or dog. Some, for example, use echolocation. It’s a personal preference. A common misconception when someone begins using a cane is that they just had a major drop in their vision. Sometimes this is the case, but sometimes the person may just be sick of tripping over things and is ready for some help.

8. Most of us lead regular, happy lives.

After doing a presentation about my vision at my niece’s school recently, a couple of her classmates came up to her at recess and said, “We feel so bad for your aunt! It’s so sad, and we almost cried during her talk!”

Hearing this made me feel like I didn’t really do a great job conveying how much I love my life during my presentation. It made me decide to start my school presentations by telling the kids to smile and laugh because my story is not a sad one. Yes, I have dealt with my share of sadness over having RP, but sadness is definitely not the word that comes up for me when thinking about my life. Challenge? Sure. Adventure? Yep. Fringe benefits? Yes, please. Joy? Absolutely.

When you’re done crying over RP, there are so many things to laugh at. For example, on a recent trip to Chicago, I reached out to press the crosswalk signal button and began pressing on a man’s arm instead, much to his surprise. You can’t tell me that’s not funny!

I think Helen Keller sums it up best: “I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden.”

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