Abigale’s Insights on Beauty & Sight Loss
“Take heart, all is not lost when medical intervention fails to restore sight. There are many resources, tools, training, and organizations to help people learn how to live with sight loss.”
Losing eyesight and how you respond to it is different for everyone. For me and my friends, our lives have not only gone on after sight loss but we are living abundantly.
While the process of losing eyesight is not easy, it boils down to choosing how you want to live. By placing more focus on what you have instead of what you’ve lost you can handle most anything.
Many of us eventually come to appreciate our sight loss as an opportunity to become a beacon of hope to those new to the experience. As we continually adjust to living without sight we gain new skills while leaning on our other senses.
Another huge piece to the puzzle is for people to remember we are not our eyesight or lack thereof. The word “blind” has no special power over us and we are not subhuman. Our eyes simply do not function.
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A white, teal, and gray boldblindbeauty.com template utilizing the ‘Abby’s Corner’ image of Abby sitting cross-legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar) with a teal Abby logo laptop on her lap. Sporting her signature explosive hairstyle, she is wearing a headset with microphone and her white cane is propped up next to her.
Abigale’s Insights on Beauty & Sight Loss
“Since I lost my eyesight I now understand that vision is not always about seeing. Sight loss, while viewed by many as a detriment, is not the be-all and end-all of who we are.”
Did you know Americans fear blindness more than heart disease? There’s been a number of surveys over the years on the general public’s view on sight loss. Here are a few snippets:
- “We fear blindness as much as cancer”
- “Having good vision is key to one’s overall sense of well-being,”
- “A majority of Americans (47.4 percent) said loss of sight was the “worst possible” health problem someone could go through.”
- “Americans fear blindness as much as they fear Alzheimer’s, cancer, and HIV/AIDS”
I don’t want to get into an in-depth discussion on the reasons why people fear blindness. However, as someone who’s lost the majority of my eyesight blindness is not how we envision it as sighted people.
- First It is not black and white, seeing or not seeing; for many, it is not total darkness.
- The majority of blind people have some functional vision i.e. light perception, shapes/shadows, lack of peripheral or central vision, cloudy, obstructed vision, etc.
- The loss of sight impacts our way of life, however, there is help in the form of adjustment to blindness, accessibility, orientation & mobility (O&M) training.
Description: A gray, teal, and white boldblindbeauty.com template utilizing the ‘Abby’s Corner’ image of Abby sitting cross-legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar) with a teal Abby logo laptop on her lap. Sporting her signature explosive hairstyle, she is wearing a headset with microphone and her white cane is propped up next to her.
Real Beauty Transcends Barriers
A little something I found in my archives but never posted. ~Steph
- Prior to losing my sight, I used to think blindness was an all-consuming, suffocating darkness.
- Prior to losing my sight, I used to think blindness meant using a white cane.
- Prior to losing my sight, I used to think blindness was the worst thing that could happen to a person.
- Prior to losing my sight, I used to think blindness would prevent me from working or participating in community service.
- Prior to losing my sight, I used to think blindness meant life as I knew it would cease to exist.
- Prior to losing my sight, I used to think blindness meant I couldn’t enjoy entertainment like books, tv or movies.
- Prior to losing my sight, I used to think blindness would change how I interact with friends and family.
- Prior to losing my sight, I used to think blindness meant living a solitary life.
- Prior to losing my sight, I used to think blindness meant I wouldn’t be able to cook, clean or care for myself.
- Prior to losing my sight, I used to think blindness would mean the end of laughter, beauty, and the things that bring me joy.
All the things I thought I knew about blindness were wrong.
Since the loss of my sight, I’ve learned so much about myself, others, and life in general. For several years I’ve maintained that I am the same person today as I was when I began my journey into blindness but this really isn’t true.
I have changed because to remain the same means I’ve not grown. Life is bigger than me and you, life is bigger than blindness. If I could extend my arms from one end of the galaxy to the other I still would not be able to contain life.
Life is beautiful. With each new day, we have an opportunity to live our life to the best of our ability. Beauty is all around us and we can experience it in a myriad of ways.
Blindness is not the barrier; there is always a way. The barriers each of us have to overcome are our biases; we all have them. Sometimes we have to go through some stuff in order to come face to face with our own biases.
If I had to choose one thing blindness has taught me it would be I have a greater appreciation for life. Life doesn’t change but it can change us if we let it.
“Real Beauty Transcends Barriers” ~Stephanae McCoy
The following is an edited version of the original article published on The Mighty on July 19, 2017.
When I lost my eyesight I quickly learned that thriving within the sighted world meant overcoming obstacles. Believe it or not, while living with sight loss isn’t easy the most difficult challenges come in the form of misconceptions. Listed below are a few I’ve encountered:
- Blindness is a complete lack of sight, total darkness – FALSE
- The majority of people considered blind have some functional vision i.e. light perception, shapes/shadows, lack of peripheral or central vision, cloudy, obstructed vision, etc.
- People who use white canes or guide dogs are totally blind – FALSE
- The range of sight loss is enormous and it differs from person to person. Many legally blind people who use mobility aids may ‘appear’ to see. The aids are needed for navigating safely and independently.
- Legal blindness is when a person can’t see after taking off corrective lenses – FALSE
- Legal blindness refers to a specific measurement required for a person to receive government benefits.
- Legal blindness does not define or describe the functional vision.
- When a person is legally blind, day-to-day living is impacted and their eyesight cannot be corrected by lenses, medicine or surgery.
- There are legally blind people who do not use mobility aids or self-identify, this is their right.
- There is a clear contrast between blind and sighted people – FALSE
- Many blind people do not ‘look’ like they cannot see.
- Many blind people walk confidently and are well put together.
- Many blind people are highly skilled in a number of areas including, law, health care, technology, art, science, sports, politics, teaching, etc.
- Blind people cannot use smartphones, tablets, or computers – FALSE
- Many blind people are extremely technologically savvy.
While this list isn’t all-inclusive many of us have encountered situations where our lack of eyesight is questioned. If there were one takeaway I would want people to understand it would be this: when meeting a person who uses a mobility device or self-identifies as having a hidden disability take it at face value.
Many times things are not as they might appear and just because we may not understand the situation does not change the fact that everyone—including people with disabilities—are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.