I’m not blind. I am VISUALLY IMPAIRED. How long will I still see for?

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Disability Discrimination Act visually impaired sign

Let’s say it, this time we were better. We Italians I mean.
In our language there is the word IPOVISIONE, which defines a state of visual impairment that is not comparable to blindness.
The English say VISUAL IMPAIREMENT or LOW VISION, but it is easier to misunderstand, since the myopics, the astigmantics, etc. … have also reduced visionl,
The visually impaired, however, from the standpoint of ophthalmology, is not (only) myopic or astigmatic, but have other visual deficiencies, which are classified as such.

I trasnlate some parts from an interesting article written by Barbara Muzzati.
(read the full text from the website fo Biblioteca Italiana per i ciechi– in Italian), where she clearly explains some basic concepts.

The visually impaired person can rely on an insufficient visual faculty, characterized by certified functional restrictions and by an usable residual vision, but often not constant.

 

Contingent conditions, the level of ambient light or the presence of contrasting colors, or personal (such as levels of fatigue) make use of residual vision not always possible and not always feasible to its full potential. Consequently, the uncertainty of psychological mastery of the residue itself. The awareness of having a rational visual function affected by factors not easily predictable and controllable by the subject, makes the subject live in the constant insecurity of being in circumstances where its residual can not be successfully used.

 

A further source of insecurity is linked to the organic functioning of the visual system and in particular the causes of its malfunction. Low vision is often the result of a regressive process: it follows that the certainty of a considerable reduction of residual vision combined with the impossibility of timing when this reduction will occur in heavily influence individual choices, not so much imposing them a direction rather than  another, but restricting their field. This process can occur even when low vision is described as stationary, since the onset of pathological events not directly related to low vision eye itself (for example, the normal aging process) could lead to a radical upheaval in the set of self-acquired autonomies.

People with Usher Syndrome, and consequently with retinitis pigmentosa, if they keep a residual vision that does not fall within the legally blind. may be considered visually impaired.

Being a visually impaired in some ways is harder than being a blind or otherwise disabled. A blind man has recognized signs and signals that allow you to identify him/her as such: white cane, dark glasses, hesitant gait, companion, guide dog.
Many visually impaired people, including myself, are not recognizable. At first glance they appear perfectly normal, then darkness falls or you get into some darker rooms and something inexplicable happens.
The reactions are often of concern and we are forced to always having to justify and explain a little-known disease that is debilitating, however, and recognized as such by the law. (See US Law and Legal definition )

A visually impaired is not resigned to not use the car, not walking alone, to ask for help, to ask certain facilities in the social sphere (sit in bright places, ask to turn on the lights, …). A visually impaired knows he/she looks normal and has to explain the situation every time he/she is in front of strangers.
The visually impaired sees.
Maybe I do not have a clear memory of how much you can see and I can not imagine how it would be to walk, run, watch a movie at the cinema if I wouls still have a normal visual field. I can remember when I played football when I was driving, when I saw the stars, but many years have passed, I was another person and I can not imagine what it is exactly clear vision.

However I AM NOT BLIND and this condition of uncertainty, visually impaired, makes difficult many choices, influence the approach to life, work, relationships, and I am constantly faced with the question: HOW LONG WILL I STILL SEE? For how long I will be self-sufficient? How long will I ever see the scenery, the sunsets? Will I read a book in ten years? Will I cook?
They are all unanswered questions. As much as they are for those who have no reason to wonder.
I mean, no one knows what the future holds., it is only the high probability of becoming blind to raise the issue, but we are all subject to unpredictability of life.
Put aside this assumption, so it would be worth living the present as it is, it remains the fact that many of our activities and actions are in preparation for a future we imagine. To build it on the foundations of low vision is not as to live it as a blind man, maybe in ten years.
Will have to learn Braille? Will I have to ‘listen’ to the computer? How will I travel?
A visually impaired do not know.
He does not know how it is perceived by others, does not know how to react to laughter of the others, does not know how it will be the garden party when it is dark, does not know when he/she is a disabled person and when he/she is not.

Therefore it is important to understand this condition, so that it is at least contemplated the possibility that some of the people you meet can be visually impaired and need help.
It ‘s important that friends and relatives accept the progressive degeneration of the imapirement and all the changes that this entails.
It ‘s important that the people involved do not incur into the Damocles’ Syndrome, living in constant fear with the knowledge that the view will always be worse.
Perhaps the best attitude is to enjoy living in the moment, facing the present at the best of the existing possibilities , with the knowledge that you have to constantly calibrate your  cognitive, perceptual and emotional instruments, which, however, imply a continuous discovery and elaboration of the world and things. Even the best known will look new and different, therefore continually stimulating.

 

4 comments from the community

  1. ciao mi sono ritrovata a leggere questo tuo articolo in quanto cercavo informazioni riguardante la mia condizione. da un anno a questa parte sto cercando di combattere contro l’ipertensione endocranica che mi ha portato ad avere deficit visivi. mi piacerebbe fare una chiacchiera con te, non conosco nessuna persona che si trovi in una situazione simile e mi sento sola perchè ovviamente gli altri non capiscono la mia situazione.

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