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What is it like to go Blind?

Updated on February 8, 2013
What is it like to go blind?
What is it like to go blind? | Source

What is Blindness?

It may come as a surprise to you that there are two definitions of blindness.

Legally Blind: To be legally blind in the United States one must have a visual accuity measured at 20/200 or less ( you read at twenty feet what the average person reads at 200 feet) one must also have a visual field in excess of 20 degrees. Each eye is measured individually so a person may be legally blind in only one eye or may be legally blind in both.

Medical Blindness: The medical definition of blindness is simpler. It is merely the innability of the individual to detect the presence of light.

I had been legally blind for almost four years. In February 2012 I also became medically blind in my left eye.

Becoming Medically Blind

For four years or so, I had been struggling with deteriorating vision. My blindness was caused by a series of blood clots or Central Retinal Vein Oclusions (CRVO) first in my right eye then in my left.

These blockages in the retinal vein caused me to lose much of my sight. My world was almost totally white. Like going out on a bright sunny day without sunglasses.

One morning in early February 2012, I woke as usual to the sound of the alarm clock.

For a moment or two I lay in darkness. Well 6am in February it is still dark outside, even in California. I blinked. I remember doing that. Then slowly it began to come to me. It was DARK!

In four years I had not seen dark. Even on the darkest morning there was a bright whiteness to everything.

But today it was dark. Black dark. Not even the red glow of the numbers on the face of the alarm clock.

Come to think of it, there was no light from the hallway. I always leave the light on in the living room, so I don't bump my toe walking through in the early morning.

This was the Blackest Black Ever

I was not struck with panic.

There was a cold calm in this darkness. This blackness was almost touchable.

I felt out along the side of the bed. I could not see it but it was still there, where it should be. I had not woken in a strange hotel room or somewhere like that. This was home.

I got up and felt around for my shoes, and wandered into the hallway. I could not see the living room when I closed my hand over my right eye.

The blackness was all in me. I knew at that moment that I had gone beyond the term legally blind. I was now just simply blind.

How Had I Gone Blind?

A few days later I had an appointment with my eye doctor.

This was my regular monthly appointment.There the enormity of the situation was revealed.

My doctor ordered my regular checks which showed nothing wrong. She then ordered a photograph taken of the retina while I was injected with a contrast enhancing dye.

This photograph shoerd much of the retina was dead. There was no blood supply whatsoever to a good portion of the retina.

What had caused that? There was no telling. There was no sign of a blockage. I had had a bad cold, the congestion might have caused a problem. Possibly a prolonged coughing bout had done something.

The prognosis is that there is no recovery. The eye will be blind for the rest of my life.

In the meantime, I actually feel some relief. Now there are less variations in vision to deal with. I hve in recent years learned to use many tools and new technologies that can help me in day to day life.

The past few years have merely been the preparation for this time. A life with blindness.


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    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 5 years ago from California USA

      Thank you ekigen. Several people have suggested a book. Maybe I should listen. :)

    • profile image

      ekigen 5 years ago

      Your positive attitude and zeal for life is commendable. With such a spirit, nothing will ever come between you and the full enjoyment of life. As it is quite evident, you have seen the brighter side of the whole situation rather than focusing on the negatives. This is a real challenge and motivation to me to see beyond what pulls me done. I hope you will chronicle everything in a book for the help of others.

      I wish you success

    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 5 years ago from California USA

      Hello ekigen,

      thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      You are very generous in your remarks. At first it was scary to know that I would go blind. It made me do lots of things I had wanted to do for some time. Travel, learn to fly an airplane (don't worry I don't do that now :)

      Blindness can also be a blessing, a lot of people talk to blind people, I don't know why.

      I am also in the process of applying for a guide dog, early days yet, but that will be a new experience and I am told something which will be a talking point for strangers. It's exciting.

      All the best.

    • profile image

      ekigen 5 years ago

      I commend you for your awesome article and great courage to deal with the problem of blindness. The technologies and tools of today are a great blessing. Because of such advancements, it is very easy to manage blindness.

      Often times, all human beings are faced with different kinds of problems. Whether or not a person will conquer a difficulty will depend on whether one accepts the problem. You are already more than victorious because instead of resorting to stress and depression, you have accepted the reality and are working on managing the problem.

      I am pleased to interact with you in this platform.

    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 6 years ago from California USA

      Ah No! Now you'll give me nightmares of Vista. LOL

    • Rhonda D Johnson profile image

      Rhonda D Johnson 6 years ago from Somewhere over the rainbow

      Me too, as long as the software that runs it isn't Windows. I don't want a car that crashes every third Saturday.

      Good night. Pleasant dreams

    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 6 years ago from California USA

      Yes, it would be nice if that car which drives itself did not require a sighted person behind the wheel. I'd buy one of those like a shot. :)

    • Rhonda D Johnson profile image

      Rhonda D Johnson 6 years ago from Somewhere over the rainbow

      I told you, you are strong! We could drive a car, provided it had a braille speedometer, seeing eye headlights and a big sign on top that said, "I MUST have the right of way." I will look for your hub on traveling.

    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 6 years ago from California USA

      Hello Rhonda,

      thanks. I can imagine the fear you felt. I was walking to work one day, just over a mile. I needed to cross a major intersection but the road was full of roadworks. I just froze with panic. I could just make out the cars and trucks in the road but my legs wouldn't take me onto the crosswalk.

      In the end I called a colleague from work who came out of the office and led me across the street. I had been in some dangerous places before but that was my first taste of, forgive the pun, blind panic.

      Blindness is not stopping me from doing much of what I want to do. I used to love to drive, that is out. I have taken classes and gained a degree since becoming legally blind three years ago. I still travel when I can. crossing the US a couple of times one experience I shared in a hub about disabled travel.

    • Rhonda D Johnson profile image

      Rhonda D Johnson 6 years ago from Somewhere over the rainbow

      I like your spirit too. Like you, I have family and friends who refuse to RSVP to a pity party. In fact, when my vision got to the point where I could not see cars until they were very close, I determined to never leave the house again. I've always been an adventurer, a loner, loving to go out and explore new neighborhoods, so you know I was scared out of my wits.

      You're not being fair to yourself to compare your strength with mine. I had my first cataract surgery when I was twelve and have been dealing with some level of hearing and vision impairment for nearly forty years. Look inside yourself. You've got all the strength you need, just let it grow.

    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 6 years ago from California USA

      Hello Rhonda,

      thanks for taking the time to comment.

      You are definitely much stronger than I am. I do admot to fearing now losing my hearing, and you have been there. That is inspirational.

      It's very true. I sometimes have my own little pity party, but it is a lonely business. So my wife and friends often pull me out of those slumps. That is why when I went blind finally it was a relief. Before I could go to bed able to see a little only to wake with my vision gone. No matter how bad my sight is now, I can cope with that. No more adjusting to new circumstances. Just a nice dark place where I can learn to live again at peace with myself.

    • Rhonda D Johnson profile image

      Rhonda D Johnson 6 years ago from Somewhere over the rainbow

      Interesting that you say it was a relief. At first, it was frightening for me because I am also profoundly deaf. I progressed to legal blindness about six years before I ever heard of a cochlear implant (a bionic device that restored my sense of hearing after twelve years of profound deafness) so I could neither see nor hear for sic years and was just kind of in a limbo. But you can't walk around terrified 24/7, so I looked into what I needed to do to adjust.

      I look at it like this: If I go to bed miserable because I am blind, when I wake up in the morning I'm still going to be blind, so what was the point of all that misery? I might as well be happy.

    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 6 years ago from California USA

      Thank you Rick for taking time to comment.

    • Rickrideshorses profile image

      Rickrideshorses 6 years ago from England

      Must be so hard losing one's sight. In the UK the policeman David Rathband has recently killed himself because after he lost his sight after being shot his world seemed to fall apart. I admire the strength of people who live with blindness. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 6 years ago from California USA

      Thank you That Grrl, it is not always the easiest of disabillities. But with all the tools at hand here in the US it is bearable.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 6 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      I can't really imagine not being able to see. My Grandmother was legally blind. She could only see from the edge of her eye. I don't know how she managed. I try it by looking straight ahead and trying to read something on the edge of my vision. I can't. I know there are more tools, gadgets, aids for people now. So people can manage better. Still, I think it would be easier to cope with the loss of an arm or leg than being blind. I'm glad you are managing and not letting it hold you back from writing and living in general.

    • Bretsuki profile image

      William Elliott 6 years ago from California USA

      Hello Michele, thank you for your kind words.

      I admit it would be nice to see again. But the state of affairs as it is today, was a long expected event. Like many who expect a thing to happen it is often the waiting part that is worst, like the exam or the driving test. When you embark on dealing with the feared event it is often a less difficult matter than one imagined. Luckily for me, I had ten years to prepare. Heaven knows how I would feel if this had been sudden.

      Thanks again.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 6 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      This is a wonderful hub. What you have gone through and how you feel about it, it better then a lot of people might have felt. I do hope more people read this hub. It will probably help them. Thumbs up.


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