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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What I Didn't See...

I don't usually talk about my private life. After all, if I talked about it, I could no longer call it private, now could I?

But over the past two weeks, I've undergone procedures that have the power to transform my life.

I was 9 years old when an attentive teacher told my parents that she didn't think I could see the board and I needed my eyes checked. To everyone's astonishment, it turned out to be a minor miracle that I could even find my way to the school. I was instantly fitted with coke bottle glasses that would only get worse as the years passed by.

In the mid 1970's, I began wearing hard contact lenses and in the years that followed, I would try every type of contact lens manufactured. I thought I was seeing just fine with them - little did I know my eyesight was still horrendous but without any correction, I'd become just about as blind as a bat.

In 1996, the retina detached in my left eye. Turned out, my extreme nearsightedness was caused by a thin retina that only became thinner as I grew older. Within hours, I had lost my left peripheral vision entirely and my central vision would often be nothing more than "Vaseline vision" -- like looking at a Monet through a thick fog.

Four years later, my right retina developed a hole. Caught before it became completely detached, the doctors were able to save what little sight I had left in that eye.

My earliest memories of my grandfather were of him sitting in a living room chair, completely blind. His outings consisted of making his way to the back door and following the clothes line to his chair beneath a tree. He'd lived that way since both of his retinas had detached.

My aunt had also gone blind and had spent decades sitting in her living room or bedroom chair, listening to the radio or to the angel who stopped by every day at lunchtime to read to her.

I came to the conclusion it was my turn now.

About two months ago, I was referred to a retinal surgeon who discovered I had recently developed cataracts in both eyes. It turns out, those cataracts were the turning point.

The cataract procedure involved removing the cataract from each eye, similar to the video below. But like the video below, it didn't stop there. Next, the surgeon implanted a toric lense. Smaller than a hard contact lens and designed to correct astigmatism, this powerful lens has given me sight for the first time in my entire life.

I had no idea that grass consisted of blades.

That people's faces had so much detail.

That my collie's fur was more than just black and long but consisted of actual strands.

I had no idea how bright my home was.

Or the mulch in neighbors' yards might have actually been fallen leaves.

I didn't know you could see the actual yarns in carpet.

Or patterns in ceramic tile.

I didn't know pasta like ziti had ridges.

I'd never before seen the true beauty of my angelfish, even though three of them are 10 inches tall.

Or the expression in my Jack Russell's eyes.

For the first time in my life, I can open my eyes in the middle of the night and see the time on the clock face without fumbling around for my glasses.

I can take a shower and see the shampoo bottle.

Read in bed without worrying I'd roll over onto my glasses if I happened to fall asleep.

In the past two weeks, I have been given the miracle of sight.

It's a whole new world.