Clarity, by definition, has four attributes or qualities, “…the quality of being clear, in particular with the quality of coherence and intelligibility; the quality of being easy to see or hear, sharpness of image or sound; the quality of being certain or definite; and the quality of transparency or purity…”
Suddenly, it seemed, “…the quality of…sharpness of image…,” something taken for granted for decades, became a yearned for ability. Not being able to see beyond the end of my nose became a frustrating, isolating burden. No longer was seeing the birds in the feeders a given, faces of loved ones were big blurs, and a once enjoyed past time, reading, became something to be endured only for very short periods of time.
Blindness has always been a terrifying spectre I have pushed to the back of my mind, because having one “good” eye made any head or face injury worrisome, especially after being warned yearly during eye exams to protect my eyes. Although there was some vision in the “bad” eye, the quality of the vision would render me “legally” blind, and limiting my sight to light and very fuzzy shapes, even up close, if something would damage the “good” eye. Since age five, I have either worn glasses or contacts to see anything, clearly, across the room.
Even with the warnings, I have taken my sight for granted. Thankfully, glasses made it possible to see in a distance. Things up-close were easily seen without glasses, and as a visual person–a visual learner–the lack of sight didn’t affect my learning because I could see.
Over the past few months, actually a year, glasses didn’t help when I watched television, read a recipe, magazine article or newspaper column, even with stronger light. I had to make the print bigger on my Nook to read books. Threading a needle and sewing, even on my machine, was a chore to be avoided. Whenever anyone pointed out a bird on the grass or in a tree, I couldn’t see it, and became frustrated and, eventually, very uninterested in anything I had to see, in a distance or up close.
After an eye exam, I learned I had cataracts. I lived with that diagnosis for most of the summer, and keep procrastinating about making an appointment to see an opthalmologist. Finally, after taking a short road trip to Duluth and Lake Superior, and being unable to perform my most vital function as navigator and road guide, it was time to admit I couldn’t see.
I know people with limited or no sight. I knew, too, that one’s attitude can be as limiting as the lack of sight. Everything I enjoy requires the ability to see whether it is reading, sewing, gardening, photography, crafts, or teaching on a part-time basis.
For my birthday and to celebrate the New Year, I had cataract surgery in late November and early December, and now see things I could never see without glasses, although, now, I need glasses for close work–the exact opposite of what has been my experience–for decades. I am seeing things I haven’t seen for at least a couple of years, but most importantly, I am clearly seeing the faces of those people I love.
I received four adult coloring books and have been coloring in the finest details with my ink pens, markers, and colored pencils. I feel that I have the visual acuity normally enjoyed by much younger eyes, and feeling much younger than the candles on the cake might declare. It is a gift to be able to see, clearly, again.
Ah, the miracles of science, and laser technology. The science that changed my vision from clouded to clear is a far cry from the laser demonstration I saw in the mid 1960s when a laser beam was sent across a high school stage. Today, the laser for eye surgery is just a bit bigger than the iris of an eye, and is so refined and precise that it can repair the damage time and age has wrought upon one’s eyes.
Every morning, I wake, reach for my glasses–out of habit–and remember that I don’t need them, and have new eyes that can see the beauty of the world, both near and far. The colors of birds, a sunrise, and the sparkle of light upon a snowy field are clearer, brighter, and a wonder, every day.
As Chris Sebastian wrote,
“My eyes are my favorite part of me–not for how they look, but for how they see.”