I Can See Clearly Now
Sometimes I feel like the Burgess Meredith character in the “Twilight Zone” television series. In the episode “Time Enough at Last,” Henry Bemis just wants to be alone, away from all distractions, to read his pile of books. When the end of the world comes and he is the sole survivor, he finally gets his chance. But then … he accidentally crushes his glasses, leaving him feeling lost and truly alone.
I can relate to Henry Bemis as someone who really values my quiet time away from people and as someone who is completely lost without my glasses, to the point of panic if I can’t find them quickly. One of my biggest fears has been losing my specs in an emergency and not being able to function without them.
When I was young, my parents didn’t realize that I was extremely nearsighted and that my eyes didn’t work together. This condition is called strabismus or is described as having a “lazy eye.” A doctor identified it and fitted me for glasses at age 2. My mom shared with me with a pang of guilt that after I got my first pair, I would just look around and marvel at what I saw. The glasses by themselves weren’t enough to fix my vision completely. At age 2½, I had strabismus eye surgery to align together the two visions. It is my earliest memory, being in a crib in the hospital and wearing an eye patch afterward. I was told that upon leaving the hospital, I refused to open my eyes, likely because it hurt to do so. When my siblings saw me with my eye bandaged up, they exclaimed, “What’s wrong with Susie?” I then opened my eyes to find out.
Sadly, the first surgery didn’t help to pull my visions together. For the next 20 years, my brain simply adjusted to the double vision by ignoring the blurry right eye. The world was flat but I didn’t know any difference. I got my depth cues from learning that things that were far away were smaller and things close-up were larger. I was able to play baseball, shoot pool and drive well.
When I was 22 years old, I got contact lenses that improved my vision so much that it triggered my brain to see double again. I had another strabismus surgery that was successful and had depth perception for the first time ever. My mind was blown as I marveled about being able to see the front and side of things at the same time! On top of that, I knew for sure where those parked cars were when I drove.
As my eyes aged and my vision declined over time, I lost my binocular vision and again struggled to see. My confidence waned while driving at night and I needed a lot of light to see anything small. The glasses were no longer working well and I felt helpless. My ophthalmologist suggested surgery and I jumped at the chance to finally fix my eyes.
In the last few months, I had two surgeries to replace my natural lenses with multi-focal artificial ones. Although I have had many surgeries in my lifetime, being claustrophobic and anxious I was nervous about the confined procedures and the adjustment period afterward. Despite my fears, the process went well and my new eyes are clear and working together again. I wake up in the morning and can see the beautiful day outside the window without reaching for my glasses. I can see depth and detail like never before and I just stare and marvel about what lies out in front of me. Whoa! Sometimes it’s too much for my brain to receive but I am adjusting quite well to my textured world. Just don’t toss anything to me quite yet.