Future Reflections Special Issue, Vol. 14 No. 2

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WHEN PEOPLE ASK, "HOW MUCH CAN YOU SEE?"

by Doris M. Willoughby

People are always asking, "How much can you see?" Maybe you get tired of this question. Ask your parents and your teachers to help you think how to answer. Kristin says, "I can see a person. But I can't see faces clearly. So I pay attention to voices."

Latisha says, "I can see if the light isn't too bright. I can read print if it's large print."

Matt says, "I can see things fine if I'm looking right at them. But I can't see to the sides."

Eric says, "I can see okay in the daytime if the light is good. But I can't see at night. And in the daytime, if there isn't much light, I can't see much."

Think about how you might answer. Everybody is different. You might want to learn the words the doctor uses to talk about your eyes. For instance, Linetta says, "I have albinism. That means that inside my eyes, in the back of the inside, there is not much color. This is why a lot of light bothers me." If you can't see at all, that is easy to explain. You just say, "I can't see at all," or "I am totally blind." If you can see light but not much else, that is easy to explain too.

Changing the Subject

Your parents and teachers need to ask you about lots of things so they can help you. Your doctor needs to know all about your eyes. It's okay for your friends to ask you things. They may ask about your birthday, your mom's job, your favorite food, or how much you can see. You'll want to talk to your friends about all kinds of things.

But sometimes people ask questions you can't answer. Sometimes they want to talk with you about your eyes too much. They talk on and on. What then? You might say, "I don't know." You might tell them to ask your dad, mom, or your teacher. Or you could just change the subject and start talking about something else.

There are some people who shouldn't be asking you questions. You have heard about "stranger dangers." Strangers shouldn't be asking personal questions.

The Most Important Things

The most important thing is not how much you can see. More important is how you get along in life. Can you do your school work? Do you get along with people? Do you have some fun? Are you looking forward to being grown up?

Some boys and girls feel bad when they talk about their eyes. They think that if they can't see something, they failed--like getting an F on a test. They may pretend they can see more than they really can.

You don't need to feel bad if you can't see something. Figure out what works better. Maybe you should get closer. Maybe you should use something bigger, like a large-print map. Maybe you should find a way that won't use your eyes at all, like Braille. The important thing is that you find a way to do what you want or need to do. Denise lives in Iowa where there is a lot of corn. She looked at corn growing in the fields a lot of times. Her mother thought Denise could see corn clearly. But when the teacher asked, "How does corn grow?" Denise didn't really know. She thought maybe it grew on a bush. When Denise looked at corn plants she only saw a blur of green. She needed to walk right up to the plants. She needed to look at them up close, with her eyes and with her fingers. Then Denise would really know how corn grows. Sometimes you may think you see something okay, but really miss a lot, like Denise. Try to get close. Feel things with your hands when you can. Talk to other people about how things look. The important thing is that you learn!

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