So of course everyone has seen this enormously adorable video by now, of a little 10 month old girl seeing the world clearly for the first time.
I’ve watched it about 5 times and ended up in tears every time. Because I know how she feels. While my eyes aren’t as bad as hers (holy cow, a +7 and a +5, and now mine come in somewhere around a +4 and +5, not sure what they were originally), they also weren’t caught as young. I was 4 years old when my parents took me to see a Sesame Street show, where I (a normally very calm, quiet child) got more and more frustrated and upset because I simply could see nothing of the show from our seats. My parents well-meant assurances that I could see just as good as everyone else from that area only upset me more. I remember – and don’t anyone tell me a 4 year old can’t remember – being extremely upset because I could literally see nothing except maybe an occasional blob of color – hello, Big Bird? They took me to an eye doctor within a few days, where of course immediately glasses were prescribed. I was allowed to pick out my own frames, and I chose a pretty but awful-with-my-skin-and-hair-tones blue. I asked my mom later why the heck she let me pick those, and her response “There was no way you were going to wear them if you didn’t like them, and if you picked them out that excuse was never going to fly!” Hehe. Smart. But since I am quite legally blind without them, I’ve honestly never once been tempted to try going without. I’ve sometimes wondered if NOT being able to see things clearly led to my obsession with all beautiful things…because I could finally, FINALLY see what pretty things actually were.
How bad is that kind of astigmatism? It can vary depending on the person’s other vision problems. I’m also near-sighted, but my main issue is the astigmatism. With my right eye, I can just make out the edges – very faint and blurry – of the giant letter E they put up on the vision test. With my left, I can’t tell anything is there at all.
I think vision problems are written off or belittled a lot. I know I try to downplay mine. A lot of people I work with aren’t even aware I have trouble, until they happen to look at me sideways in the sunlight. Sure, it’s correctable with glasses. Giant, thick glasses that make me look like I have tiny pig eyes. I do have contacts now, thank god, that actually correct my eyesight to 20/15. People always ask why I don’t just get laser eye surgery, especially since my job would actually pay for it. That’s awesome and everything, except laser surgery doesn’t really help astigmatism. So I’m stuck with lenses of some kind until science comes up with a better alternative.
My job requires a certain amount of visual acuity. Not joking. And not too long ago my lack of it was put on display for the entire company to see. A combination of eye strain, bad lighting, and general nervousness made for a horrible presentation on my part. Thankfully my boss knows I’m usually a perfectionist with everything and always come through, so he pulled me aside and asked what had happened. My only explanation was that I couldn’t see. Couldn’t. Effing. See. Even with my lenses. I’d try to focus and no matter what I did, how many times I blinked, nothing would come out of pure, outraging blurriness. Every two seconds I was fighting off a wave of panic, embarrassment, or anger. Or all of the above. I wanted to cry but that REALLY wasn’t going to help. I felt like everyone was looking at me like I had 3 heads and someone was sitting on my chest so I couldn’t breathe. And nothing I did helped. It’s a horrible, horrible feeling and I went back to my room and I did cry.
I’m eternally grateful to whoever invented glasses. I’m glad I’m an adult now, so (usually) no one makes fun of how thick my glasses are, on the VERY rare occasions I have to wear them. I’m so glad that now there’s technology that allows babies the age of little Piper up there to get glasses so much earlier. I hope no one ever makes fun of her for wearing them. I hope she knows that she’s beautiful no matter what she’s wearing on her face or her body. I hope she treasures every single beautiful thing she sees, every color, every person she loves. Never stop smiling, Piper.