February is Low Vision Awareness Month. I am a person with low vision myself and I started this blog to bring more awareness to the low vision community. When you have low vision you are in between the blind and sighted world and it can be frustrating at times. Blindness is on a spectrum and every person with a vision impairment sees differently. There are those who are totally blind and there are those with usable vision.
When someone says they have low vision it usually means they have some usable vision but again you should ask the individual what they can or can’t see. For example i am totally blind in my right eye but i have some limited vision in my left eye. I have to use glasses with a very high prescription to help me have the limited vision that I have. The glasses do not restore my eyesight to 20/20.
Even with glasses;
- I can’t see much in the bright sunlight or in dim lighting. Bright lighting also makes my vision blurry.
- I can’t read regular size print.
- I can’t see curbs on the streets or steps especially when going down because i do not have depth perception.
- I can’t see small details because my eye does not focus well.
Due to these limitations I use a white cane when I am out on my own. The white cane helps me to detect curbs and drop offs such as steps as well as other objects in my path I may not see. The white cane helps me to let others know that i may not see them in my path and it helps me be safer when walking around. My glasses do help me see large print and i can see objects and people but it is very limited and changes depending on the situation. I do better in less crowded places. I can see more when there is a lot of contrast.
Having low vision can be a complicated thing and even more complicated to explain to a fully sighted person. When you see someone with a white cane that is also wearing glasses or seems to have some vision please understand that their vision is limited and they need the white cane for safety reasons.
Many people with low vision struggle with being misunderstood by others because they seem to be sighted but the sighted public does not understand that their vision is limited. The Checkered Eye Project was born out of this frustration. Libby Thaw created this symbol to let others know she had low vision and now it is available for all to purchase as a more clear sign of vision impairment. It is a great tool to educate the public.
Please leave any questions you have about living with low vision below. I will be sharing more about my vision this coming April in a series of posts.