Thursday, October 1, 2015

Day 1: what exactly can I see?

So let's start with the written question in it's entirety

What can you see? Is it like seeing black all the time? Do you have any light perception? Can you see shadows?

It's a multi-part question because I wanted to get this one done all at once, so that I didn't have to come back to it over multiple days. I suppose I need to start by explaining blindness/visual impairment, and what that actually means. The easiest way for me to do this is to quote from this Wikipedia article. I'm quoting from the section that deals with the US, since I'm from the US, but there are also sections that refer to the UK etc.

In the United States, any person with vision that cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in the best eye, or who has 20 degrees (diameter) or less of visual field remaining, is considered legally blind or eligible for disability classification and possible inclusion in certain government sponsored programs.
In the United States, the terms partially sighted, low vision, legally blind and totally blind are used by schools, colleges, and other educational institutions to describe students with visual impairments. They are defined as follows:
Partially sighted indicates some type of visual problem, with a need of person to receive special education in some cases.
• Low vision generally refers to a severe visual impairment, not necessarily limited to distance vision. Low vision applies to all individuals with sight who are unable to read the newspaper at a normal viewing distance, even with the aid of eyeglasses or contact lenses. They use a combination of vision and other senses to learn, although they may require adaptations in lighting or the size of print, and, sometimes, Braille.
• Myopic - unable to see distant objects clearly, commonly called near-sighted or short-sighted.
• Hyperopic - unable to see close objects clearly, commonly called far-sighted or long-sighted.
• Legally blind indicates that a person has less than 20/200 vision in the better eye after best correction (contact lenses or glasses), or a field of vision of less than 20 degrees in the better eye.
• Totally blind students learn via Braille or other non-visual media.
In 1934, the American Medical Association adopted the following definition of blindness:
Central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective glasses or central visual acuity of more than 20/200 if there is a visual field defect in which the peripheral field is contracted to such an extent that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees in the better eye.

I fall into the totally blind category. In other words, I can't see anything. I think it was less than 20/200 when I was last evaluated, but I can't remember what it was, (if there's even anything less than that.) Now I'll get to the other parts of the question. People often ask if it's just black when I open my eyes. The answer to that question is no. There is literally nothing there. I'm not sure how to explain that in terms that someone who has sight can understand, but there's just nothing there. People also often ask if I see shadows or have light perception, and the answer is no to both of those. There are some totally blind people who do have light perception, but I'm not one of those people.

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