Axver (axver) wrote,

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The thrills of low vision

My big news for the week is: I now have a cane.

Finally, I think my vision is being taken seriously. Some of you may not be aware of my vision impairment. I am an albino; although many people don't realise it, albinism is not simply a skin condition - it affects the eyes (and sometimes solely manifests itself in the eyes), due to a lack of the pigments that aid in sight. Accordingly, I have a stack of eye conditions, including astigmatism, nystagmus, photophobia, and strabismus, along with just simply being shortsighted. In controlled clinical conditions, I test as nearly legally blind, but I'll be going to an opthalmologist soon and we'll see if I get declared functionally legally blind or anything like that.

For now, after meeting with Vision Australia, I have a cane. I thought I would just receive an ID cane, which is used to indicate that you have low vision and little else. However, in something I didn't expect, the Vision Australia representative thought I would be better served by the long cane. I'm so used to my vision not being taken seriously, by everyone from my father to my teachers back in school (especially in New Zealand) and various others who have come into and out of my life. There seems to be this assumption of "oh, you aren't totally blind, you can see, so you must be OK", or "it can't be that bad". I lived in a comfortable environment at home with Mum, where if I had any problems she was there to assist, and I made my adjustments - including using the computer in a way that is quite frankly terrible for my posture, but at least I can read the bloody thing. Even when I lived in Brisbane, Luke was around and Mum visited weekly. Since moving to Melbourne, I have become abundantly aware that I am probably pushing myself more than I should, excessively straining my eyes, and basically trying to live like a normally sighted person when I'm not and can't. In the last couple of months, I think people have really started to take that seriously. No longer is it "oh, your vision's bad - but you've got your glasses and you aren't blind". Now, I've got a cane and maybe I am functionally legally blind.

It's been interesting using the cane for the last week. I don't like the assumption that I'm totally blind, and I am nervous about some of the looks I'm sure to get when I'm taking photos. People just don't seem to understand the dynamics of low vision. Just because you have a cane doesn't mean you have no vision; I have some vision, but it isn't spectacular by any stretch of the imagination. One thing I have noticed straight away from using the cane is that without it, I unconsciously walk with my head tilted at the ground and my eyes focused on what's a few steps immediately in front of me. Using the cane for that, I can look straight up and ahead. I hope this will do something about my shocking posture. And maybe, as reluctant as I am to do so, I should enlarge text on my computer so I can sit further back. I hate large text, I really do, since it looks so n00bish and frankly isn't that ideally comfortable to read due to how many more line breaks there are to follow, but I don't want to end up with a bad back by the time I'm 40 or anything.

Anyway, back to writing boring essays for university ...
Tags: eyesight, life, vision

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