I’ve been told that I see the world differently than most.
At the age of 16 when I attempted to receive my driver’s licensed, I was asked to take a vision test. I was asked by the woman behind the desk, “what letters do you see?” to which I replied “what letters?” My eyes could only view a white blur within the viewfinder.
After several doctor visits; it was determined that I had a rare eye disease called keratoconus, a misshaping of my cornea which prevented my clarity of vision. The only solution, I was told, is gas permeable (hard contact) lenses. These lenses did provide vision for me to obtain a license to drive; however, after a few months the lenses scratched and scarred the cornea of both eyes, and I was then unable to use them without immense amounts of pain.
The next solution, I was told, is a cornea transplant, which I had performed on my left eye. The surgery was successful; however, my vision has only slightly since improved. I still cannot recognize faces until within 2 or 3 feet, reading signs is nearly impossible, and I reading menus usually means a conversation with worker behind the counter instructing me on their selection.
For many my visual capacity (or incapacity) would be viewed as a great impediment to my life and abilities. When I inform people of my visual ability, the most common response is something like “oh I’m so sorry.” To which I ask them not to be, as I am not defected in anyway. I simply informed so they may not think me rude if I do not say hello in public because I did not see them.
But there are a great many things which I do see, perhaps in greater clarity due to my lack of physical visual ability. A streetlight at night, has light which is refracted into a multitude of patterns and shapes, and it’s quite lovely. Many things are an adventure to me.
I believe that where I am restricted, my vision has also liberated me into seeing and learning in ways most never use. I’ve made many friends by saying hello to a stranger, thinking they were someone I knew, which then initiated conversation. I’ve learned to travel by foot, bus, air, and train, relying on asking others questions about places to get from place to place. I utilize my memory of places and people to know what is happening, and there are a vast array of other senses which I believe have been activated in order for me to adapt to my surroundings.
I am quite thankful for the way I see, and wouldn’t ask for anything more. It is my hope to do things in life which most would say is impossible. I want to walk as much of the earth as possible within my lifetime, “seeing” as many sites, and meeting as many people as possible. More than that, I want to prove that money is not the requirement to travel, but simply truly having the will to do it, then do it, without letting any thought or excuse stop you.