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Isolation in blindness

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OneSight celebrates World Sight Day on October 9, 2014 to increase awareness of the global vision crisis and raise funds for critical OneSight programs.

Connie, an EyeMed team member, volunteered to go blindfolded for an hour as part of the World Sight Day experience. In her efforts to raise awareness for those with vision impairments, a sense of isolation took over and she found herself cut off from communicating with the world around her.

Connie - World Sight Day

I don’t have the best eyesight to begin with. My family knows when I don’t have my glasses on, because they can hear me knocking things out of the medicine cabinet in the morning. Without my glasses, anything farther than a foot in front of me is a blur. But at least my vision can be corrected.

On Monday, I found out just how difficult life would be without vision. A simple celebration lunch with my team turned into a challenging—and sometimes funny—situation for everyone involved.

I ate my entire lunch blindfolded as part of our World Sight Day experience. Those at my table were helpful, telling me to move to my left or right for my drink and utensils. As you’d expect, little things like getting food onto the fork were difficult.

But even more challenging—and unexpected—was the feeling of isolation that grew as the lunch progressed. By the end of lunch, I barely contributed to the conversation. Without visual cues, I couldn’t figure out how to participate. I had to listen more intently, and I’m assuming it’s because I couldn’t see the person’s lips or hand movements. I underestimated just how important body language is to read social cues.

In addition to the lack of visual cues, I had to concentrate hard on getting my food onto my fork and my fork to mouth. The intense concentration on the simple exercise made it difficult to think about the chitchat going on around me.

As scary as it was for me to rely on my coworkers to lead me through the maze of tables and serving trays to exit the restaurant, nothing about the experience frightened me more than the prospect of feeling cut off from the world. I never realized until that moment that being able to see does more than help us find our way around. It helps us engage with the world around us. I had no idea the role vision played in social interactions until I temporarily lost my sight. The way I see it, vision does more than help us see. It’s our link to the outside world, and something no one should take for granted.

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