Monday, April 27, 2015

The gift of sight

My usual posts tend to be full of laughs and silliness. This one is not. The topic is something that's been on my mind as of late and I wanted to get it down on cyberpaper. If you're looking for laughs, you'll have to wait till next time—or the time after that, depending on what I want or need to write.

As most people in my family and circle of friends already know, I've been fighting Type 2 diabetes since 2002. One of the things that can be compromised in diabetics is their vision. As the disease progresses, the tiny blood vessels in the eyes can eventually rupture, which usually leads to loss of vision in the eye(s) affected. Keeping one's blood sugar within the target range will slow down or even stop that from happening.

I started life with a few vision problems. Early on, I was diagnosed with amblyopia (pronounced am-blee-OH-pee-uh). A slang term for that is "lazy eye." Those of you who know me in person may have noticed (and kindly not mentioned) that my left eye tends to wander upward. That's a sign of amblyopia. Also, I was born severely cross-eyed. In my wee little days, I had two different surgeries to correct that problem, and while the crossed-eyes were fixed, I still had the ablyopia—and do to an extent to this day. I've always favored my right eye, yet, strangely, the vision in my left eye is clearer.

Back in the '90s, long before diabetes came my way, I noticed that my vision wasn't what it once was. I attributed that to the normal process of aging along with the fact that my job kept me in front of a computer monitor all day long. At one point, I was tested and found to have 20/50 vision—not very good. The doctor prescribed glasses that he suggested I wear while working in front of a computer or while watching TV. Those seemed to help and I came to rely on them to make everything that I saw as clear as possible.

However, time went on, and my vision steadily got a bit worse. Once diabetes arrived, my vision seemed to stabilize. I came to accept that my vision would not improve, but was thankful that it wasn't getting so bad that it would affect work, driving, or anything else in my life.

At some point after my hospital stay (read about that here if you haven't yet), I was sitting and watching what was going on out in front of me. I noticed that things some distance away actually had sort of a crisp look to them; the edges of the various objects were sharp. It was easier to read small type on overhead menus at restaurants. To me, that was very strange because even with good blood sugar control, a diabetic's vision is supposed to get worse over time...isn't it?

The improvement was confirmed at an eye exam shortly thereafter. I was at 20/30, so obviously I had improved. And had done nothing more than to keep doing what my doctor says to do.

The fact that my own vision has not been harmed by a disease that normally takes it away—and one I will be fighting for the rest of my life—has humbled me. Perhaps God has a vision for me that is yet to be revealed, and having good sight is a part of it. Being able to see is perhaps one of the greatest gifts that we have been given. And I cannot be more thankful for what I have.