What is it like to go Blind?
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.
Other Sites and Hubs
- William Elliott A Life with Blindness
A Blog about Blindness, adaptive technology and benefits for the blind and their families
- Blind Faith - Yahoo! Voices - voices.yahoo.com
I have been going blind for several years. Throughout I have documented my feelings and noted the things that I miss and would long to see just once more. Often many things are now mere memories in the grey fog of blindness.
- The Top Five Essential Gadgets For a Visually Impaired Person
These are some items which I feel are necessary to a blind or visually impaired person in day to day life.
- Living with Disability: My Life with Blindness
What is it like to go blind? My own personal story of drifting into the realm of the blind.
- The Intel Reader: Adaptive Reading Technology for the Blind and Dyslexic
The Intel Reader is a wonderful piece of adaptive technology. A high resolution camera combined with a dedicated text to speech computer.