Blindness: Seeing is Believing

A young child seeing their mother for the first time. An adult seeing their spouse again after vision loss. There’s an intimate psychological element to regaining vision. It’s an emotional occurrence and often will show up in your gushy Facebook feed. The very same Facebook feed that will show you dog rescue videos, military reunions, and parents doing amazing things for their kids.

Blindness can be easily defined in clinical terms, but as an emotional issue, can be defined differently to other people. Kenneth Jernigan, President of the National Federation for the Blind from 1968 to 1986, describes this difficulty:

“Most of us are likely familiar with the generally accepted legal definition: visual acuity of not greater than 20/200 in the better eye with correction or a field not subtending an angle greater than 20 degrees. But this is not really a satisfactory definition. It is, rather, a way of recognizing in medical and measurable terms something which must be defined not medically or physically but functionally.” (Jernigan)

Not only can blindness affect an individual with perfect vision, but has a broad definition that defies the binary notion that blindness is constrained to see and not see.

What are individuals in the ophthalmic industry doing about blindness? A more common facet of preventing and treating blindness is the diagnosis and correction of cataracts. The solution is simple and through a simple surgical procedure, an intraocular lens (IOL) is placed in the eye after removing the cataract. For some, there are more rare indications that require more involved analysis and treatment.

In one case, there is a device known as the Argus, that is used to correct an indication known as Retinitis Pigmentosa. The American Academy of Ophthalmology in their profile of Terry Byland, a person afflicted with the disease, show the device below:

Photo of the ARGUS

The Argus II, or “bionic eye” is a retinal prosthesis used to correct Retinitis Pigmentosia.

The Argus II is proven effective for Terry, and please note the tone in the following statement.

When asked what life is like for a person who regains their vision due to clinical cooperation, Terry replies:

“A blind person’s life can be somewhat mundane sometimes and this has really given me a solid reason to go on and to look forward, knowing I’m taking part in something that’s going to affect a lot of people in a positive way.” (AAO)

Terry focuses mainly on what his contribution is doing for other people who may have the same problem. Us in the Ophthalmic industry are truly fortunate to work with patients who understand the greater good of their contributions to the field.

Sources:

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/patient-stories-detail/terry-retinitis-pigmentosa-bionic-eye

https://nfb.org/Images/nfb/Publications/fr/fr19/fr05si03.htm

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/cataracts-treatment

For more info regarding blindness and what you can do to help, please visit Foundation Fighting Blindness and show your support. They are a great organization!