My world is full of puzzles as I seek a semblance of clear vision. I am determined to do what I love to do, at the moment I want to do it. I like cooking and gardening, reading and writing, knitting and jewelry making, just for starters. I even enjoy watching TV sometimes. Like a normal person, I often have more than one thing going on, but seeing what I am doing is where my life gets complicated.
I think that others without this type of problem will never quite get what this world is like. Perhaps from an odd kind of loneliness, that of someone inside a bubble of sorts, I keep having conversations with myself, trying to put language to what living with this vision is like.
With my particular eyes, my entire visual field is blurred, not well focused (without the use of devices, that is). In a nutshell, finding focus with devices is possible, but to focus through distance is another matter entirely.
I used to be a photographer. I exhibited and was a college photography teacher. In photography we use lens aperture and shutter speed settings to manipulate “depth of field,” controlling how the negative and resulting photograph show focus, near to middle to far from the camera lens. A photographer can become quiet creative working with depth of field. You’ve probably seen photographs of a detail in nature, up close, where what surrounds the object is out of focus.
For my eyes to see anything in focus, I must use low vision aides. And my depth of field is limited to one distance at a time. Focus from these eyes is fractured in space. Seeing spatially where focus is fractured is a constant and pretty strange experience.
For example, wearing my glasses, just my everyday distance correction, I see a great deal. I definitely see better with the correction than without it. But my glasses do not restore sharp focus, texture or detail, at any point in front of me, including my peripheral vision. Add yellow glasses, and I pick up more texture, but not all of it. If I clip onto my glasses a +5 diopter adjustment, or put on my old trusty Visor Mag (a pair of lenses mounted on a head strap), a world of options opens up on the sharp focus front.
Options, you say? Well, herein begins the conundrum. You see, to get the prized clarity I seek, like to thin lettuce seedlings in the garden, for example, a clip-on or head worn pair of lenses works, but the focal distance comes in close to my face. So the other day I did well on the lettuce thinning project, but I had to lie down on my belly in the dirt to see what I was doing. Just me and some earth worms spending a little quality time.
To further expose myself, let’s move to my chair in the sitting room where Ken and I visit, read, or watch TV. My chair has all this stuff around it. If I want to watch TV, I use Max TV glasses and am quite happy. But it is confusing to wear them while I eat or knit because anything close to me is completely out of my field of view.
Now, I like to knit while watching TV. Enter the need for compromise. The +5 clip-ons actually work pretty well if I need to watch my knitting stitches. If I want to see what Orzo the cat just did, I flip them up, and that works if he’s nearby. But when the +5s are flipped up and he is further away, or if something happens on the TV, I need to switch entirely to the TV glasses. So moment to moment I can get pretty busy managing my devices.
Sometimes I think the behavior I exhibit around this yearning to see detail may make me appear downright odd. It would no doubt make a good comic strip. I think I may have made peace with the fact that this constant conundrum simply is what it is. It is my choice to keep doing things I enjoy. It is my choice to refuse limitations.
Recently, I have felt waves of gratitude come over me as I continue to process my evolving world: gratitude to Ken for his endless curiosity, observation, and search for solutions. And gratitude that I have kept myself so well entertained over these many years as I have lost a great deal that was precious to me. I truly enjoy myself now, at this juncture, at least much of the time. But these trade-offs of where and with what to fix the focus, and of how to collect and manage devices at hand, make for a strange and complicated experience of the world that few people really understand, or should be expected to understand.
Would the comic strip be a worthwhile new outlet? Anything that becomes funny in this life is a laugh worth sharing, don’t you think? I bet someone who is reading this has already thought of a cartoon.