What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. This guest post is by Amanda Fagan.
I have Anisometropic Amblyopia.
In a nutshell, that means that my brain shut off signals to my left eye because it was very weak. I am legally disabled.
When I was 7 years old, I was going through that "I want to do everything my big sister does" phase. My sister got glasses, and I said to my mom, "I need glasses, too!" She just figured I was trying to copy my sister. A few months later she finally took me in for an eye exam and whoa---we find out that I am blind in my left eye. Being the sassy 7 little kid I was, I just looked at my mom and said, "I told you so!"
The doctor wanted to patch my right eye so that my left could become stronger. But what 7 year old wants to sit on the couch for an hour every day being virtually blind? So I only did it a few times, then "lost" my eye patch.
For the next 9 years it was thick glasses and tons of mocking.
It wasn't until I went to an ophthalmologist when I found out the name of my disorder and exactly what it was. The doctor told me that patching eyes only really works if you catch it when the child is about 2 years of age--not 7. He also said that I would have to wear my glasses all the time, and get shatter-proof lenses to protect my eyes.
If something ever happens to my right eye, that's it. Game over. I'm completely blind.
When my peers would ask me about my eye disorder, I would mention that, and they would use it against me. They would jokingly threaten to stab me in my right eye. While it was funny to them, I just got angrier and angrier.
If I had a penny for every time someone said, "Close your right eye! How many fingers am I holding up?!" I would a rich, rich girl. I get so many stupid questions about it. "If I poked it, would it hurt? How come it's not all cloudy? How come it doesn't just roll around in your head? Why don't you replace it with a glass eye? " The list of stupid questions goes on and on.
Driving is a nightmare for me. It is so scary not knowing what is to my left side. I can't even see the front of my car while driving at night. I am so afraid of driving that I haven't driven myself anywhere in months, and I am missing out on a lot because of that. But I just cannot get over this fear.
And it can't be fixed. Laser eye surgery won't do anything because the problem is in my brain, and there is currently no surgery to fix is. I just have to take crazy-good care of my right eye, or my "good eye" as I have dubbed it.
My point is, if someone is visually impaired don't turn them into your entertainment. I got off lucky, there are so many other things that could be wrong with my eyes. But that does not mean that all the jokes and calling me a "cyclops" does not hurt my feelings.
Please take care of your eyes. If you are supposed to wear glasses or contacts, do it. Go get a vision test at least once a year. Eat carrots! Just take care of your eyes and treat those with visual impairments with respect.