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The miracle of good vision

POSTED: March 6, 2009 11:05 a.m.
It’s hard to be vision impaired. People who aren’t just don’t have a clue how difficult it makes life in so many ways.
When I was in the third grade, my teacher noticed I was having trouble seeing things on the blackboard, even after she moved me to a desk in the front row of the classroom. So she sent a note home to my parents, who took me to an optometrist on Abercorn Street. He discovered I had congenital juvenile myopia, so I had to get eyeglasses. What a difference that made in my young life.
That long medical phrase simply meant that I was born with a genetic flaw in my eyeballs, causing me to be short-sighted. The “juvenile” part of the term meant that my short-sightedness would continue to get worse as my body grew until I reached adult size. Then it would stabilize until I got older and things began to deteriorate due to the normal aging process.
And that’s exactly what happened. Every year or so, I had to get new lenses, and back then they were still made out of glass, so they got increasingly thicker and heavier. What a pain that was. I had to learn to be careful on playgrounds and at school so that I didn’t drop them or get hit with a ball or something that would break them. I also had to have regular appointments with the optometrist. Finally, about the time I got to high school, the prescription stopped having to be changed.
I hated having to wear eyeglasses. For one thing, kids at school would call me “four-eyes” a lot, as kids will do, and that always hurt my feelings. For another, when I got older, I couldn’t wear ordinary sunglasses and look cool, like the other kids. Going to the pool or beach was a problem, because I couldn’t swim with them on, for fear of losing them. But if I took them off, I couldn’t see clearly. What a predicament. That seriously eroded my self-image.
So the summer after my first year of college, I talked my parents into letting me get contact lenses. In those days, the hard plastic kind were all that were available. I got them on a Friday afternoon and it took me that weekend to get used to having these strange objects floating around in my eyes. At first it felt like I had bricks in them. But by the third day I had acclimated, and started wearing them all day long. Finally, I looked like everybody else and could wear real sunglasses not those nerdy clip-on things. Hallelujah! What a miracle that was.
I also found out the following spring just how much pollen is actually in the air when things begin blooming. I had no idea before.
I had to take the contacts out and wear glasses the first couple of weeks every spring when the pollen was overwhelming. I also learned to be careful when it was windy, otherwise the wind would hit me the wrong way and blow a lens out, and that was a mess. Try finding one of those small, clear disks on the ground when you’re blind in one eye. Not an easy task.
You couldn’t move for fear of stepping on it before you found it. Standing on carpet was worse. It could fall between the tufts and become almost be invisible.
I finally had to go back to wearing eyeglasses all the time several years ago because I couldn’t see both close-up and long-distance clearly at the same time with contacts. Age-related problems kicked in. I tried wearing two separate lenses, one for close-up and the other for distance, but that drove me crazy.
So, I reluctantly gave up contacts altogether. At least I can still see. And that’s better than losing my sight altogether. That would be a real hardship.
People with good eyesight just have no idea how hard it is when you don’t. Be thankful for the miracle of good vision.

Semmes lives in Woodland Lakes.
 

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