MS Symptom: Being Legally Blind


My sister doesn’t entirely understand what it means to be legally blind. I imagine that a lot of people have trouble with the concept. Hell, even I have trouble with the concept. Basically, it means that my vision is 20/200 or worse in my best eye.

But what does THAT mean?

It means that a person with 20/20 vision can see objects and people standing at a distance of 200 feet away perfectly clearly and I can MAYBE see objects that are 20 feet or less away from me. I have to be very close to it in order to see it. I blink a lot to stabilize my gaze for a few seconds.

Even when an item is super close, I may not be able to see it, especially if light is shining on it. If a light is shining on the object, I can’t read anything on it. I also don’t recognize people’s faces, a condition called prosopagnosia, or face blindness. So, If you see me out in the world and I don’t recognize you, don’t take it personally.

Magnifying glasses don’t help and it can’t be corrected with glasses, I just have to learn to cope with it until MS decides to say, “Ok, I’m done fucking with your vision today.”

So, being declared legally blind doesn’t mean I’m on my Stevie Wonder and can’t see anything. But, I can’t see street signs, read books, or see people walking more than 20 feet in front of me and none of this can be corrected with glasses.

When did this start?

Before Multiple Sclerosis entered my life, I had perfect vision. 7 months post-diagnosis, I started experiencing weird vision. Like, everything I looked at was lightly shaking. It was as though I was looking through a fish tank. People and inanimate objects were moving, as the waves in the fish tank move.

My Nystagmus vision

It started really light and now it has escalated to shaking much like an unsteady camera. Think “Cloverfield.”

Nystagmus shakes like Cloverfield

It’s called Nystagmus It sucks seeing the world this way. The most recent neuro-opthamologist appointment (January 16, 2015) says since I’ve had it for a year and a half that it’s unlikely that it will go away. There are no drugs to treat it nor glasses to correct it. I’ve found humor and frustration in it. But, I find that like owls, I have to move my head around to increase my ability to see things. I don’t have the incredible range of motion, but it’s the same type of bobbing and tilting motion.

Bobbing my head like yeah
So, to recap:

  • I am legally blind because my vision can’t be fixed with glasses or contacts.
  • My eyes physically shake, involuntarily/uncontrollably (like the eye in the gif above), which has caused the legal blindness.
  • No meds will treat it.
  • I have trouble recognizing faces
  • Tail lights, headlights, text messages, and neon signs just look like a blur.
  • I can’t read books or drive my car. (this one really hurt my feelings.)
  • It won’t go away until MS decides it’s tired of fucking with my vision.

Below is a video of what I think I look like when trying to see something

Featured Image Courtesy of Wikipedia