By Melanie Peskoe
October is Blindness Awareness Month so I thought I’d share a little about myself and how I navigate the sighted world. This might be a little long winded so bear with me. I was born with cataracts and developed glaucoma. I also have a condition called nystagmus which causes my brain to send off signals that make my eyes “dance” back and forth. My right eye is my “good” eye with vision of 20/200 and I only see light in the left. I am considered legally blind. I live in this weird in-between world where I do not completely identify with those that are totally blind, but I also do not completely identify with normally-sighted people either.
Probably the hardest thing for me is not being able to drive, otherwise I live pretty much the same as everyone else. I’ve learned different ways to do all the things that you may do using your eyesight, but I still put my pants on one leg at a time too! My lack of vision absolutely does not affect my quality of life; it just gives me a different perspective. I have a very full, blessed and happy life.
I was really self-conscious about my eyes and vision for a long time, but as I matured I became more confident and proud of who I am, embracing my visual ability instead of trying to pretend I wasn’t different.
Both of our children were born with with cataracts also, but because they were identified immediately they were treated quickly and both kids are doing GREAT! We are raising them to be self-advocating, independent, humble, God-loving people who face their challenges head on.
I know God has a purpose for me, and I am still trying to discover what exactly that is. I think He uses my visual impairment to keep me humble, because I am, by nature, a very independent, free-spirit person! I want you all to know that I am VERY open about my vision and WELCOME any questions or dialogue you have.
Some last thoughts… parents please teach your children that it is OK to ask about what makes someone different. It’s far better to be curious than to stare, laugh, point, or whisper. Also, realize that although I don’t see well I still live a perfectly normal life with a house to clean, dinner to cook, two kids to raise (who are NOT ‘mommy’s helpers’ – “I” am responsible for them, not the other way around) and many other responsibilities that I deal with just like everyone else. I’m more like you than not. Oh also, if you wave to me from across the room and think I’m just being nasty by not waving back – chances are I didn’t see you so come say hi instead! Lastly, while I might rely more on my other senses to give me information, I can assure you they are NOT supersonic, bionic, or otherwise hypersensitive! 🙂