My daughter M never stops talking. She loves audiobooks and playing with her dolls; teasing her brother and plinking and plonking away on our piano. She is tall for her age and would only wear red for over a month when she was two; she has a habit of picking her nose (no matter how many times we tell her not to) and loves ice cream. Oh, and she has low vision.
M has high myopia and degeneration of her retina. She has already had laser surgery to repair retinal tears once and is booked in to have another evaluation under anaesthetic (EUA) in a few weeks time. She has an area in the centre of her visual field that is slightly obscured due to previous damage. Her uncorrected vision is off the charts and her visual acuity is at best 20/100 when she has a full correction. At the moment her vision is deteriorating pretty quickly and it’s becoming common place for her prescription to increase by -1D or more in the three months between each visit to the ophthalmologist.
What does this actually mean in real life though? She tends to hold things closer to her face to look at them – if we go to the library to borrow out books we try to get two identical copies so that I can hold one to read and she can hold one to look at the pictures (she likes picture books for younger children as she’s learning her letters and the print is large enough for her to see). Whereas her brother learned to read very young, she struggles with letters that are close together and is learning with flashcards (one letter per card) that we lay out to say words.
She probably has more bumps and scrapes than a child with normal vision and will trip over things that she hasn’t seen (she’s also terrible at judging distance, which doesn’t help). She doesn’t really enjoy watching television as she doesn’t really see well enough. When we go out in public she tends to stick to me like glue as she’s nervous about getting lost, and we try to wear bright clothes when going to a busy place.
The other thing to bear in mind is that M has never had normal vision – she has never seen a television screen clearly or been able to spot a friend across a room. In a way, this makes it easier for her as a lot of the adaptations she makes have come naturally, but is frustrating for us as she does not tend to notice any deterioration.
This is only a short list of how M’s low vision affects us on a day to day basis – a lot of the adaptations that we make come naturally. The thing that we always say to friends and family is that M is so much more than her bad eyesight – she’s our lovely little girl.