Legally Blind

Legally Blind

Joseph Martinez

As I start my first day of fourth grade, I remember my teacher Mrs. Wise sat me in the back of the class, which was my favorite spot because all the kids could mess around without getting caught.

   One day, everyone was copying the math equation that was written on the board. I was confused because to me, the board was all white. As days went on, other kids could tell something was wrong.

   I would ask, “What’s that word on the board? Where is the teacher at? Why are the words in this book blurry?” Most kids in my class talked about me or asked me why I was weird and dumb, and not many people wanted to be my friend. 

   Almost every day I would go to my room and not really talk to anyone in my house. My parents finally took me to the eye doctor. Our family has a history of wearing glasses and they thought this would be a solution, they just didn’t know how bad it actually was.

   I thought that everyone’s vision was bad, that my eyes would get better as I grew into an adult. The eye doctor shined many lights into my eyes before the real exam began and could already tell that my vision was awful. 

   The first test for everyone is to look at an array of letters and read the biggest line they can see. The only problem was that, to me, the big “E” at the top of the chart was almost invisible and mixed in with the rest of the black lettering.

   As the exam went on, the doctor put many lenses in front of my eyes and, for the first time in my life, the world was clear. The first time I looked out the window of Rx Optical, there was a tree right in front of me. I didn’t know that leaves were separated, I thought they were just one big blob of green. The view was gorgeous and my mind couldn’t believe this is what I was supposed to be seeing all along. 

   About three days later, my new prescription glasses came in along with the results of my exam. Perfect vision is 20/20, the further a person is from 20, the worse their vision. Legally blind starts at 20/200; my latest exam was three weeks ago and my vision without lenses is 20/4000. In other words, an object that someone can see from 4000 feet away, I can only see from 20 feet, and my eyes cannot focus on anything farther than 6 inches from my face without glasses.

   The world with impaired vision is strange and scary, also every object appears huge and broken. The trunk of the tree disappears because it’s too skinny for my eyes to focus on. Colors far away from me are very scattered and seem to be huge, when there are many colors on a painting, the dominant colors are visible but the less dominant colors disappear. 

   One of the worst experiences I’ve had was when my fifth grade class went to Double J Water Park. When I swim, my glasses can’t be worn because they will fall off or get damaged, so when my friends were going on slides, I got lost very quickly and accidentally went to a random person thinking they were my friends.

   I got really scared when I realized it was a random person and found out I was alone and lost in this huge park with only blurred water and slides around me. It took me about one hour to make my way through the water and ask many people to find help, and ever since this experience, I have not been to another water park. 

   Something that the non visually impaired take for granted is swimming or an activity that involves hard work such as sports or jumping on the trampoline. These activities seem really normal to most people, but when visually impaired people start sweating, glasses start to slip off the head and focus begins to lose on the task so they can be fixed. Needing to get glasses was one of the worst experiences that I’ve had in my life but sadly I’m not alone. 

   An estimated 285 million people are visually impaired in the world and the majority of my family members are legally blind. The technology of glasses is amazing, but being blind still causes stress and problems.  

   One issue that hasn’t happened but I am terrified of is having my glasses fall and break because then I couldn’t drive home or make my way around the day. The experience of having glasses isn’t bad but getting to this point was one of the most difficult parts of my life. Being unlike most kids was challenging.