If you had the opportunity to be 2 feet taller, change your foot size, or perhaps instantly loose 20 pounds, just for a few weeks, would you? Knowing it would all go back to normal?
What about something more significant like becoming bilingual, or gaining an instant athletic strength, or the ability to play a musical instrument. Remember, it’s just for a few weeks. Would you take it?
Now what if you could experience something life altering like walking out of your wheelchair, or hearing without your hearing aids, or seeing with clarity out of eyes labelled ‘blind’. Would you do it? Just for a few weeks?
When asked if I would have surgery if it could give me full sight I have always firmly said “no”. I like who I am. I have accepted my vision. I have made it part of my life, part of my identity. It is as much a part of me as the religion I was raised in, my family experiences, my interests and my beliefs. My vision has played a role in every experience I have had, every decision I make and every plan I have for my future. I don’t know how to separate it from me. I can’t imagine my life without a vision impairment, just as post people cannot imagine their life with one.
Surgery would be permanent; it would change me and my life forever. But would I accept the opportunity to experience seeing with full clarity for just a few weeks? A chance for a new experience, and new look on the world, if I can end it and go back to my normal after? The answer is yes.
I am about to start a clinical trial with a special pair of electronic glasses. These fancy glasses use a camera and reflect the image on the lenses of the glasses. The glasses are fitted to the individual using existing prescriptions, papillary distance, and head size. The user can zoom the camera in and out to look at objects in the distance, or up close, to see in more detail. They don’t replace normal vision as you are only seeing a small portion of your environment at a time.
They would allow me to sit on the couch and watch television, go to a meeting and see people’s faces and discover the secrets hidden behind the glass at museums. I may be able to read a menu in a restaurant, see my phone screen without it touching my nose and read nutritional information off packages in the grocery store. I might see the constellations for the first time and watch my dog play at the dog park. I might see things I have never seen before.
I am excited. I love new experiences. I look forward to the challenge of learning how to use the glasses and how to engage my vision in ways I have not done before. But I’m also nervous. What if I discover I am missing more than I thought? What if, when the glasses have to be returned, I feel like I have lost something? What if I no longer accept my vision impairment in the same way? What if I pass up this opportunity and never know?
I have the opportunity to see with clarity, for just a few weeks and I am going to make the most of it. I will journal my experiences and share them, along with my thoughts when this journey is complete. It’s my chance to see the world through electronic eyes. Now, who is up for a game of charades?