At a routine eye check-up (I’ll qualify routine later) I was told that I was legally blind in my right eye. Immediately my devious mind thought of any benefit I could claim - financial or otherwise – then the reality of the diagnosis began to sink in. Can I keep my driver’s license? Wow I’ve only got one eye left? Blindness is such a freaky thing for sighted people to imagine. I remember as a kid playing that party game pin the tail on the donkey and how we laughed at the near misses and hilarious places we’d stuck the tail.
Doesn’t seem so funny now.
My eyes are what you might call my Achilles heel. When I was in kindergarten, circa 1970, a routine school check up found I had myopia (short-sightedness) and a lazy eye with a slight turn – just for effect. For a year after that I wore glasses with a patch on one lens to try to strengthen the lazy eye. It’s called occlusion therapy. The cat-eye glasses had cream frames and the patch bore a Disney Bambi motif. Remember that kid at school with the patch? That was me. And though I can’t remember the taunts of ‘Cyclops’ it did make me look at the world differently. Besides, being a ginger I was no stranger to name-calling.
The best part about the diagnosis was that I got to go to a specialist in the city every month for eye exercises. This meant a day off school YES!, lunch at the Grace Bros. (now Myer) cafeteria - chocolate milkshake and a cheese sandwich, and one on one time with Mum.
Years later another diagnosis of congenital cataracts saw me in surgery – a routine procedure for octogenarians but not 20-somethings. But maybe my biggest fail optically was when I detached my own retina chopping wood. I’m too ashamed to go into detail but yes it did hurt and no I don’t fancy myself as a lumberjack anymore.
So here I am contemplating another ‘procedure’ to remove the rubber band that has been holding my retina in place since that fateful axe wielding day and that makes my kids look at me suspiciously when they see a glimpse of silicon in the corner of my eye (they think I’m some sort of Replicant), and trying not to consider the possibility of sympathetic opthalmia.