I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the world like most people. My eyes became myopic at a young age, resulting in my first pair of heavy brown plastic glass frames while still in first grade. This led to a series of progressively thicker lenses every year, until I reached junior high, when my parents and a sympathetic ophthalmologist allowed me to ditch the glasses for contact lenses.
More than happy to leave behind the disastrous 1980s mauve-tinted glasses, I struggled though to train my reflexes not to blink every time my finger approached my eye’s surface with a sixty-dollar piece of mostly water + silicon. I think it took forty-five minutes to finally insert the first contact, but I persevered.
I lived life rather normally as a person with miopia magna for many years, with not quite 20/20 corrected vision but close enough, until eight years ago when I suffered a retinal detachment as a consequence of time, gravity, plus my ovoid-shaped eyeballs. Despite a successful reattachment, I lost most of the vision in my right eye. I was devastated.
But with like many of these things, our bodies and eventually our minds adjust. When I developed a cataract in the mostly blind eye several years later, I carried on as usual. Although James will tell you otherwise, of my need to turn on lights when he can see perfectly well without, or of things I simply just don’t see.
I was going to have cataract surgery a couple years ago when we were living in Spain, but I got cold feet after the ophthalmologist there told me he had never seen anything like my right eye before. And much of me was ambivalent about the operation anyway, seeing as I would experience little improvement in my vision afterward, what was the point.
This past summer I found a new eye doctor near Baldy Hill, a retina specialist, who urged me to go ahead with the operation now. Without the surgery, he could do little to assess my right eye, yet alone determine whether any new advancements may help improve my eyesight. So I went ahead and booked the op — and then Hurricane Sandy came along and zapped our electricity for four days. I called and cancelled the appointment.
Until today. My own lens with the dense cataract was broken up and sucked out and replaced with an artificial one that corrects part of my nearsightedness. Truthfully, my expectations were low, and I have been pleasantly surprised by the results. I still can’t see any detail or read with my right eye alone, but I CAN see the bigger picture — the lights on the Christmas tree, the clock on the wall, the clementine on the corner of my desk. After five years of darkness, it is nothing short of amazing.
I will never have the clarity of vision that most people do, but I’ve come to love the softened edges of my world, the dancing floaters, the infrequent but spectacular light shows brought on by ocular migraines. My eyes not only allow me to see the world, but to do so uniquely. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.