I Am Blind in One Eye and This Is What I Want You to Know
Last year, I sustained a traumatic injury that left me blind in one eye. It has been a long road just to get to a point where I’m not struggling with it every minute of the day. I have been asked so many questions about how this has changed my life. The truth is, everything has changed. Below is a sample of questions I have been asked; the answers are based solely on my personal experience.
“It happened so long ago, aren’t you over this yet?”
Blindness isn’t something you adjust to easily or within a short amount of time. For my entire life I saw the world with two eyes. Suddenly, the vision in my right eye was taken from me in a terrible accident. Having no depth perception has been one of the hardest aspects to deal with. The adjustment has been a long process, still ongoing a year and a half later. Be patient with somebody you know who is newly blind while they navigate through this new normal. They do not see things the same way anymore, and it takes time for your brain to adjust to that.
“If you see something, you aren’t really blind, are you?”
My blindness isn’t the same as anyone else’s blindness. Like many others, before my injury, I thought if you were blind you saw complete darkness. This is not true; there are so many variables when it comes to blindness caused by trauma. No two eyes are going to have the same visual experience. While some have no central vision, others have very limited central vision, and some have no peripheral vision. In my case, there is what is similar to a black cloud covering most of my central vision. While I can see light in the outer parts of my visual field, any objects I do see are blurry. I also have no peripheral vision; I do not see you even when you are right next to me.
“You applied for disability, right?”
Being blind in one eye usually doesn’t make you qualified for disability benefits, though I believe it should. In most cases you can still work, drive and do most activities you did before losing your vision. However, in my experience it is extremely stressful both physically and emotionally. The mind plays great tricks on you when you are trying to perceive things with no depth perception. I now see moving objects in 3D; for example, when driving through a patch of falling leaves, there is no longer a delicate nature to them. I now perceive them as heavy objects that can break through my windshield. Even something as familiar as writing is hard, the pen never hits the paper in the right place. Simple things that you have seen and easy tasks you have performed your entire life are now so different, it can be very frustrating.
“I closed one eye for a while to see what it was like.”
Being blind in one eye isn’t the same as closing one eye for a while — mostly because if you need to, you can open your eye. You are not living with constant floaters and flashing lights, you do not have the fear of one day going completely blind, you do not get nervous in crowds, and you do not have to worry about further deterioration of your eye. The emotional stress is not there for you.
“I cannot believe this happened to you; it was just one of those freak accidents.”
My blindness isn’t due to a freak accident. Many call it that, but I have unfortunately discovered it is more common than you may think. I was hit by a line drive traveling around 100 mph; my vision was gone upon impact. Many, many people sustained a visual impairment or blindness just from attending a baseball game, injuries that were totally preventable by MLB.
Navigating through a life-changing injury is anything but easy. Be patient with the person who was injured, be compassionate, be available to listen to them and be safe!
Getty image by Discha A-S.