DWB – Driving While Blind


I left my sight behind at 55 MPH.

One minute I was driving along, chasing down a potential training contract. The next – nothing. Lights out. All of a sudden, I couldn’t see a thing.

Okay, that’s a bit dramatic. Despite what a lot of people envision when they hear me say I’m blind, I don’t live in total darkness. Blind is simply easier to say. Like many ‘blind’ people, I’m actually visually impaired (VI). My light perception is a little diminished, but I can still tell light from dark, see the color blue, and large objects within about a three foot range of vision are fuzzy but mostly recognizable.

But my range of vision is severely compromised. So I couldn’t see a thing beyond the hood of my Mazda 626 except hazy, rapidly moving shapes. And even the familiar things I did recognize inside the car were hella blurry.

So it was a real problem. I mean think about it. What would you do if you found yourself on a fairly busy road, going about ten miles over the speed limit, and all of a sudden you couldn’t see where you were going? Pull over to the side? Stop the car? Try to get help?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjvdMNDC3XE&w=300&h=300

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Reading is Fundamental

A quick Google search reveals multiple entries about breakthroughs in optic nerve regeneration. There have been gains made in drug treatments as well as clinical trials using stem cells. I have no doubt whatsoever that there will eventually be a treatment that will restore every bit of function my atrophied optic nerves have lost.

But I don’t really see it happening in my lifetime. I’m being realistic, not pessimistic. All of these treatments are in the early stages of development, and while I did find this article about a Baltimore woman who submitted to a controversial stem cell treatment and regained some of her sight, I’m not that adventurous. I didn’t even get a smart phone until 2011. Since I’m clearly not what they call an early adopter, I don’t see myself being first in line to have people experiment with what little eyesight I have left. I’m going to need them to fully develop, test, and perfect these ideas before I climb up on the table.

In the meantime, however, I am more than happy to take advantage of all the technology and devices found here that allow me to live as fully and independently as possible with my current range of vision. Losing my independence is my greatest fear; I don’t want to just exist in a world where I’m unable to do any of the things that make life bearable for me.  While it may take years for the new self-driving technology to put me back in the driver’s seat, I have at least found programs and applications like the five listed here that gave back my ability to process the written word. Which was HUGE for me.

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