Dina Simpson

@dlsimpson | contributor
After losing the eyesight in my right eye while attending a minor league baseball game, I became an advocate for safer ballparks across the country. In an effort to raise awareness, I began writing about my experience and what I have learned along the way.
Dina Simpson

What It's Like to Be Blind in One Eye

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! #MyConditionIsnt

Dina Simpson

Glaucoma Awareness Month: The Eye Disease You Might Not Know You Have

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. It is estimated 58 million people have glaucoma worldwide, making it the second leading cause of irreversible blindness. An estimated 3 million Americans have this disease and almost half are unaware they have it. Glaucoma is often referred to as the silent thief of sight, and that is because this disease is usually painless and people do not notice anything is wrong until some portion of their vision has been lost. Glaucoma is defined as a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve consists of over 1 million nerve fibers and is the pathway for transmitting messages between the eye and the brain. There are different types of glaucoma including open-angle, normal-tension, and angle-closure glaucoma. They all cause damage to your optic nerve, resulting in vision loss. Once damage occurs, it cannot be reversed. This is one of the reasons why having regular eye exams is so important. During your eye exam, the doctor will look for signs of glaucoma in a few different ways. One tool is to measure your intraocular pressure, the pressure inside of your eye. This is done at every eye exam you have and it is painless. Elevated eye pressures are common with glaucoma patients and can help the doctor determine if glaucoma may be present. Your eye doctor will also dilate your eyes and look for signs of abnormalities. If it is suspected you may have glaucoma, further testing will take place. For instance, a visual field test may be performed. This test requires you to cover one eye, focus on a fixed spot and click a button when you see flashing lights. This measures your peripheral vision, which is where sight loss occurs first with glaucoma. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, there are treatments available. Eye drops may be prescribed by your doctor and laser treatments or surgery are also options. These treatments are designed to slow down or may even stop glaucoma from progressing. Who is most a risk of developing glaucoma? If you have a family history, or have been diagnosed with diabetes or hypertension, you are at increased risk of developing glaucoma. People over 60 years old are at an increased risk, especially for the Hispanic and Latino communities and African Americans over the age of 40. Glaucoma can also occur after a severe eye injury, as is the case with me. Glaucoma is a disease that insinuates itself into your life; there is no pain involved, so it may go unnoticed until portions of your vision are already gone. And once it is lost, it cannot be restored. Glaucoma will not take all of your sight at one time. Vision loss occurs very slowly over time and usually begins with the loss of peripheral vision. This is what makes it difficult to catch early on. I have glaucoma caused by a severe eye injury and to be honest, she’s a sneaky little bitch. Twice she has forever erased part of the vision in my right eye. Below is an example of the vision loss glaucoma has taken from me thus far. I also have severe central vision loss, but I have left that out in order to better illustrate the vision loss due to glaucoma. The best way to stay on top of this disease is to have your eyes checked regularly. There are treatments available to slow its progress. Research is ongoing to find a cure for glaucoma, but we are not there yet. Please consider making a charitable donation to help find a cure for this disease.

Community Voices

Time To Turn the Clocks Back

<p>Time To Turn the Clocks Back</p>
6 people are talking about this
Dina Simpson

What It's Like to Be Blind in One Eye

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! #MyConditionIsnt

Dina Simpson

When We Crave Nostalgia After Experiencing Trauma

When I experienced a traumatic event in my life, I found myself longing for things from my childhood. I wanted to go back to a time that didn’t have so much pain, a time where I felt safe. I had this deep rooted need to connect with something that brought me some sense of comfort. After my life-changing injury, I drew a line of sorts and separated my life into two parts. There was life before trauma, which I refer to as the old days, and life after trauma. And I wanted so badly to go back to the old days before I had so much to deal with. I found comfort in memories from when I was younger and life was easier. I found myself listening to my favorite songs as I was growing up. I watched the movies that took me back to my childhood. I needed a connection to my life that existed prior to the trauma I was walking through. While I was revisiting my past, I was experiencing the power of nostalgia. Nostalgia is defined as a sentimental yearning to return to a time of happiness experienced in the past. Studies have shown nostalgia not only can boost your mood but also provides comfort and a sense of security throughout a traumatic time in your life. When we go through periods of significant change or trauma, it is natural to long for the good old days. In an interview with the American Psychological Association, Dr. Krystine Batcho states that “It’s very difficult to grasp change, because in some sense, at a very deep psychic level, change threatens us. It’s a little frightening because we’re not 100% sure that we can control it. One of the most important aspects of being a healthy human being is having a sense that you are in control of things. When things start to change, either very substantially, such as major events in a person’s life, getting married or getting divorced, getting a new career, going back to school or graduating from school, it’s comforting to have a nostalgic feeling for the past that reminds us that although we don’t know what the future is going to bring, what we do know is that we know who we have been and who we really are.” Whether you have walked through a personal trauma in your life or have struggled during this pandemic, nostalgia can be very comforting. Nostalgia takes us back to a period of time when our life was not so stressful, a time when the responsibilities were not so heavy. It brings us back to our happy places. Nostalgia may be sparked by a place you visited in the past, a favorite song from your childhood or even the aroma of your mom’s home cooking. And because nostalgic memories have strong emotions tied to them, while you are reliving the experience in your mind, you may also feel a sense of happiness and comfort. So next time you find yourself struggling, indulge yourself in some nostalgia. You’ll feel better afterward.

Community Voices

In July 2020 I was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration. According to my Eye Doctor, my risk factors put me at risk of "vision loss" at 60% in the next 5 to 10 years.

That was a massive pill to swallow considering I was 30yo with 3 small kids and had never even heard of MD before. I did a ton of research and could not find any articles or medical journals related to MD in people younger than 50yo. Hence the name "Age Related Macular Degeneration"

After a 2nd opinion at a facility known for their state of the art technology, it was confirmed. And yet, I find myself wondering ... how can this be?

I go back and forth between believing it, and then freaking myself out if I feel like I'm noticing visual changes to Total denial and not noticing a damn thing.

Am I crazy? Am I just losing my shit? Am I really seeing visual changes and ignoring them? Or manifesting visual changes because I'm thinking about MD?

Is there anyone else around my age with this condition? I need to know I am not crazy or making this up.

3 people are talking about this
Dina Simpson

Adjusting to Vision Loss in One Eye

I have been blind in my right eye for nearly two years. My blindness occurred suddenly due to a terrible accident. Learning to live with vision loss definitely has a substantial adjustment period. The brain needs time to adapt to this major change, yet in my experience there is not much that can be done to facilitate the process. While I do see some light and blurry objects out of my injured eye, a significant amount of my central vision is gone along with portions of my peripheral vision. I feel like it is easy for others to discount what I’m dealing with because I do still have sight in one eye. People often do not realize how frustrating it is to live with the actual vision loss. I find not being able to see what is right next to you incredibly terrifying. There is a misconception that the good eye will strengthen itself and make up for the blind eye. Your brain makes adjustments, but your good eye does not magically improve its vision so it becomes like nothing happened. In reality, the vision in the sighted eye stays the same and continues to change with age as it normally would, and it is now combined with what is left of the blind eye. This presents so many difficulties for me on a daily basis, such as loss of depth perception, light sensitivity and night blindness. It’s all fluid, changing from day to day based on variables such as the amount of sunlight or the type of weather. I have been told that your brain needs time to adjust to vision loss, to rewire itself accordingly. Please note it feels like this takes forever! Other than completely covering the affected eye with a patch or a special contact lens, there really isn’t much people like me can do except get used to it. There is no physical therapy available; there is no medicine that will make it all better. Adjusting to blindness is a learning curve where you must now make accommodations in your life to compensate for the vision loss. Throughout this journey I have found some things that do help. The most important thing I learned was to slow down. This was not easy for me because I have three kids and am constantly on the go. Every single task had to be broken down, thinking through each step carefully. I had to train myself to complete simple tasks ranging from how to fill a glass to stepping off a curb; even getting out of the car was tricky. Becoming familiar with what your limitations are and what you are comfortable doing is also a big change. For me, crowds produce anxiety and driving can be terrifying. Taking my kids places proves to be frustrating, not because they are misbehaving but because I cannot see them even when they are right next to me; this keeps me in a constant state of panic. We are learning together what an afternoon outing looks like and where I am comfortable taking them when I will be the only adult there. Talking to others who have been through this can also be very helpful. This is one of those situations you really cannot understand unless you have walked in these shoes. Talking to those who have not been through it is good too; you can educate them on what it is like to live with blindness. Over the past two years I have made adjustments to accommodate my injury. Many things have gotten easier, some things have not and I don’t know if they ever will.  Although I am far from being used to life with vision in only one eye, I remain hopeful that I will figure it out at some point.

Dina Simpson

I Have a Visual Impairment and This Is What It Looks Like

I would like to share something with you. When you look at me, you do not see what I see. You see a woman wearing glasses, nothing out of the ordinary there. But I have a secret (well, I have not exactly been quiet about it). I have an invisible disability. This means you would never know by looking at me that anything is different. The invisible disability I am living with is blindness. I have a severe and permanent visual impairment in my right eye caused by blunt force trauma. Out of curiosity, people frequently ask me what I can see out of that eye. As soon as I speak the words “I can see a little bit in the…”  the assumption is made that because I can still see something, I am not “really blind.” Most people do not understand that blindness is a spectrum. As I think back to the past, before losing the eyesight in my right eye, I realize I was also guilty of thinking all blind people see nothing. I had no idea that blindness can widely vary from person to person. I did not know that most people who are considered to be blind have some level of remaining vision. In fact, only a small percentage of people who are blind or visually impaired are in the category of total blindness. I created this picture to help understand what my impairment looks like — through my eyes. Here is what this picture looks like for a person without a visual impairment:   When I look at the same picture using only my right eye, this is what I see:   This is my visual impairment; this is where I fall on the spectrum of blindness. I have a traumatic macular hole and glaucoma in my right eye. You can’t tell by looking at me that my vision is severely impaired. You would never know this is how I see out of my right eye. You would not know that I have an invisible disability unless I told you. And yes, even though I do have fairly normal vision in my left eye, my vision combined is not without complications. The loss of depth perception is very problematic and in my experience creates an adjustment period that seems to be evolving all the time. I lack awareness of what is going on to the right of me, bringing much truth to the saying “out of sight, out of mind.” I also experience extreme light sensitivity, along with constant floaters and flashing lights. Invisible disabilities are just that — you likely will not be aware somebody has one. I may not be at the point where I am using assistive devices and the way I look may not fit popular opinion on how a visually impaired person “should” look, but I assure you, my disability is there and it is real.

Dina Simpson

Another Day, Another TikTok Trend Mocking Blind People

Like many people, I have been watching a lot of TikTok lately. With all of the stress that comes along with a global pandemic, it is a great way for me to take a break from my hectic schedule for a while. There is so much content, it is easy to lose track of time while scrolling through your feed. Most TikTok videos are pretty relatable and provide a much-needed laugh during these stressful times! Unfortunately, I’ve also seen a disappointing side to this app. I suppose we can find fault with anything if we look hard enough for it. It is easy to become offended, we need to pick and choose what we are going to shrug off and what we will determine is unacceptable to us. We need to decide at what point a line is crossed. I came across an audio clip in which the blind community is the punch line. In this day and age, that is just unacceptable to me. The audio clip from “Absolutely Fabulous” being turned into a trend is as follows: “Great news! She’s fat? No, no, no, better than that!  She’s dead? No! She’s blind! Yes!” Usually, the video will depict two people referring to an ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend. It includes the two characters jumping for joy when the punch line is delivered that shouts, “She’s blind!” This TikTok trend is the perfect example of ableism. It is sending the message that it is fine to discredit one’s worth because they have a disability. The assumption becomes that because one is blind, they are less desirable than a sighted person. As somebody that belongs to the blind community, I am saddened that this is a trend. Am I to be less desired? Am I less worthy of love? No, absolutely not. There is nothing wrong with being blind, no matter where you fall on the spectrum. The blind community is an amazing one. We can accomplish anything we put our minds to, just like anybody else. It is never OK to make fun of disabled people. Period. TikTok has also recently been criticized regarding another trend that insists Helen Keller could not have been a real person. It gained some negative media attention, as it should!  A spokesperson for TikTok issued this statement in a recent article that appeared on Yahoo Life, “TikTok is an inclusive community, and we do not tolerate hateful behavior. Content that dehumanizes others on the basis of a disability is a violation of our community guidelines, and we remove such content from our platform.” Yet videos containing discriminatory content toward the blind community continue to circulate on this app. Like I have found here on The Mighty, I have also found wonderful people on TikTok willing to educate the public on what disability and chronic illness look like. I have learned so much from the stories that are shared by these brave people. It’s a shame that there are also many people jumping at the chance to garner some followers at the disabled community’s expense. I thought we were supposed to be heading into a kinder, more accepting world. Clearly, there is still a long way to go if it is acceptable to publicly shame disabled people.

Dina Simpson

Why I'm Not Sending My Kids Back to School During COVID-19

These last four months have been filled with enough stress and anxiety to make me want to run away and hide. I have been at home with three kids who are crawling the walls and trying to keep up with work. I haven’t had a day off from my job in 166 days, but who’s counting? I was looking forward to my kids going back to school this fall and getting back to a normal schedule. At one point there was a little glimmer of hope that this was going to happen. But as new cases of COVID-19 continue to rise here, there and everywhere, that hope is quickly slipping away. For weeks, I have been struggling with the decision to send my kids back to school, going over the pros and cons in my head numerous times. Today, I made my final decision. I opted for 100% distance learning for my kids this school year. I thought about my kids’ safety and the possible exposure to coronavirus they would endure on a daily basis. They each attend a different school building within the district, causing me triple the worry. Sending them will ensure they may not see their grandparents or their cousins until sometime next summer. I thought about the possibility of them contracting this virus and how sick they may or may not become. What if they give it to me or my husband? Where does that leave us if one or both of us should become gravely ill? I thought about how my kids would react when I told them we will be learning from home, again. They need to see their friends. They need instruction in a classroom setting. I worry I am making the wrong decision. I worry about what this is doing to their mental health. I worry their education will fall behind. I thought about the teachers, the staff and the bus drivers. I thought about the kids who must attend school and the parents who must go to work. I thought if I am able to stay home, I may be helping out those that have no other choice than to go to school. Not one bit of news regarding COVID-19 is headed in the right direction. I thought about how the number of cases we had here in Ohio last March compared to now. On the day the governor ordered schools to close, there were 712 cases of COVID-19 in Ohio. We are now over 80,000. We are at the mercy of our superintendent and the teachers to protect our children. I have complete trust that my district is doing everything they can to safely bring our kids back to school. But there are too many what-ifs, too much uncertainty, too much at stake. Last spring I was literally praying for distance learning to end. To say it was a struggle would be an understatement. Come this fall, I see no other way. Other than trying our best to keep our kids safe and healthy, there is no right or wrong choice we can make as parents right now. One day, this pandemic will come to an end and this will be in the past, but for now, we must make the choice that is best for our family. For more on parenting during quarantine, check out the following stories from our community: Creative Activities to Try With Your Kids While We’re Isolated at Home How We Can Promote Continuity in Special Education Programs During the COVID-19 Pandemic 25 Hilarious (and Sweet) Photos That Show What Parenting During COVID-19 Is Really Like Why I’m Inspired by This ‘Hard Email’ a Mom Sent About COVID-19 and School Work