Happily, I am no longer ashamed of my low vision (for the most part)
“Good grief, Carlene, must you sit so close to the TV??” This, along with “Why do you have your face literally in your book” are two questions I heard a lot in my lifetime. Another was “Can’t you see?!?! You need to get new glasses.” I’ve heard so many comments like these that I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has noticed my obvious nearsightedness. For several years these comments were shaming to me. I tried to compensate for my less-than-stellar vision, tried to hide the fact that I have a visual problem that is not my fault. Sometimes I have felt so ashamed, such as at some job I had when frustrated that I couldn’t see certain things. This shame has often resulted in tears, which of course I’ve also tried to hide.
Not anymore. As I often tell people, there are good things about adding years to one’s age, and one of those things is that a person sometimes accepts what is and no longer frets so much about it. For some years I’ve realized that I need to live in a large-print world, and reading glasses and magnifying glasses are always at the ready because, sadly for me, the world insists on tiny print.
Over my working life I spent too many years at various jobs trying to (mostly unsuccessfully) hide the fact because I was deeply ashamed of my low vision, which is due a retina condition known as retinitis pigmentosa (according the the Mayo Clinic web site, or pale retina). My local eye doctor who diagnosed it said that either it is congenital (I was born with it) or somewhere along the line my retina was detached (like, maybe in the bike accidents I had in the early 70s, in which I bounced my head on the curb a couple times).
Either way, what it means is that my retina does not properly reflect light,and my optic nerve is not fully developed (connected to my brain), leaving me with serious nearsightedness. I am legal to drive with my prescription glasses on, though preferably not at night because my condition means my eyes are very…