Most people go about their every day lives worrying over the smallest things. They get angry when someone steals their parking space, when a baby won’t stop crying in a public setting, or when the quality of their latest Netflix binge is below Super HD. We bicker and we moan over the most minuscule “problems” in our lives. We too easily lose sight of what is really important in life and we take for granted the many blessings each us receives on a daily basis. When was the last time any of us gave a gave a second thought to the roll that our sense of smell plays upon the foods we eat? Or the fact that our sense of touch is sensitive enough to detect the difference between a house and a car if our fingertips were the size of the Earth. We pay no attention to the fact that we have almost a 270 degree field of vision (including head and eye rotation), or that our brain is capable of distinguishing about 10 million different colors. The human body is capable of amazing things, under normal circumstances. But what about those who’s circumstances are a little less normal?
Let me interject real quick. My wife is my hero. She’s a wonderfully strong spirited woman and she’s exceptionally brilliant.
My wife had a rough start to life. She was adopted at 2 weeks old. She was an at risk SID baby and placed on a heart monitor for the first few months of her life. At just a few months old, her parents and doctors discovered she had actually been born blind. Miraculously, another few months after her blindness was discovered, she could see. Her sight wasn’t perfect, but it was something. She had heavy prescription glasses from an early age, and while some might see her sight as a setback in life, she had a relatively normal childhood. She ran, played basketball, and was driving a four wheeler by the time she could walk (she grew up in Iowa). She didn’t let her eyesight handicap her. She dealt with and adjusted for her “limitations”. What other choice did she have?
Being born in the mid/late 80′s and growing up in the early 90′s, there weren’t a lot of options besides glasses. Optometrists told her that her prescription was too high for soft contacts and she’d have to wear hard ones if she wanted the option. Now, I can’t even stand a spec of dust or a slight breeze in my eye, I couldn’t imagine a hard piece of plastic sitting flush against my eyeball. But she did it. I’m not sure if it was her “limitations” in life that contributed to her stubbornness, or if she was just born that way (it’s one of my favorite things about her btw), but being the strong willed woman that she is, she stuck that hard plastic in her eye on a daily basis.
Years later, technology would improve. Materials got thinner and lighter. No more of the bottle cap glasses of yesteryear. Goodbye to the hard contacts and hello to the soft comfortable contacts that the rest of the world is able to enjoy. With the advancements in technology, I asked the same question that I’m sure you’re asking right now. What about LASIK? The answer was the same as one she too often gave out when people would look too long at her eyes. She was born with Nystagmus. It’s a condition of involuntary eye movement. The movement isn’t as noticeable as she thinks, but it does make her self conscious and it is something that you can see after speaking with her for a few minutes. Since this condition and the movement is involuntary, it obviously means she can’t control it and therefore can’t keep her eyes still during the LASIK procedure. Despite the lack of corrective options available to my wife, she still enjoys life and her independence.
Again, my wife is a very strong woman and very independent, but she does rely on others to travel. With her glasses, she’s legally blind. She is able to have a license (with a doctor’s note), and is able to legally drive during daylight hours. I’ve ridden with her, she’s a wonderful driver. Facing such limitations of sight though doesn’t give her the best confidence while driving. She is uncomfortable with the thought of driving. She chooses not to drive for fear of not seeing a stoplight, another car, or a pedestrian in time to react. Currently she either walks to where she needs to get to, or I drive her. We’ve been fortunate that I’ve worked for a company that has been understanding and has let me work odd hours and take random “lunch” breaks in order to give my wife a ride somewhere.
It’s been a dream of my wife’s to live in New York City since before I met her. She’s in love with the city, the idea of it, the culture, the freedom. The only time either of us has been there was on our honeymoon, and we loved it. I dream of moving there one day, not for me, but for my wife. A large city with a large mass transit system would provide her the freedom she desires and deserves. I want to do whatever I can to provide for her.
I’ve spent years trying to gain a better understanding of her vision. Sometimes when we’re driving, I’ll point out something in the distance and ask her to describe it to me. I try to visualize the images that she sees. I can’t. I’ll never be able to fully understand. I am daily in awe of her will, determination, and strength. I’m sure the dependency on others weighs on her, and I’m sure she wishes she had better vision, but if you were to meet my wife, you would never know she was “limited” in any way. This is why she is my hero.
So why tell you all of this? What does it have to do with the title of this post?
The other day I was given a gift. A gift that touched me deeply. I’ve been completely unable to get this gift out of my mind, and I felt a deep urge to write this story to express my gratitude for this gift.
What was the gift?
I was given the gift of sight. I stumbled upon a simple website called Eye Simulator. It allows you to put in a prescription and it renders an image that simulates the vision of person with that prescription. The predefined values of the fields don’t actually go as low as my wife’s prescription, so I entered the lowest values available in the form. The image generated is slightly better than my wife’s vision. Care to see the through my wife’s eyes? This is her world without glasses:
To put it into perspective, the image at the top of this post is the crystal clear image of perfect vision.
Honestly, when I saw this, I was speechless. I felt a battery of emotions all at once. I never dreamt that I would be able to understand. It’s not an exact representation, but it’s close enough. This simple image made me appreciate and love my wife even more. It also put my life into perspective. I suddenly felt ashamed of all of the petty complaining I do throughout the day. I felt more appreciative of the gifts that I’ve been given. And I felt even more determined to do whatever it takes to love, honor, respect, and help my wife in any way possible.
This website, and specifically this image, have given me perhaps the second greatest gift that I’ve ever received. I will never be able to fully put into words my gratitude and appreciation for it’s creator. Thank you.