When I was about four or five years old I found out I had cataracts. I was going into Kindergarten and needed to schedule a doctors appointment. I don’t particularly remember all of this, so I am kind of speaking from what I was told by my parents. Apparently when I was getting my eyes checked, the doctor noticed something strange when she shined the light in my right eye. So I had to schedule an actual eye exam to figure out what was up. I don’t exactly remember the moment of finding out, nor did I really understand what was going on at the time. I never noticed anything was wrong with my eyesight because I thought I could see the same way as everyone else.
It is pretty rare to be born with cataracts so I always struggled with my eye doctor growing up. I loved them, but my situation was very hard to understand. I was born with congenital cataracts. A congenital cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye that is present at birth. Did I mention I have more than one in my right eye? Yeah. I don’t have the greatest vision. I grew up having to go to the eye doctor twice a year to make sure my cataracts weren’t affecting my good eye (my left eye). Anything you could possibly have done to your eye I probably had. I basically grew at the eye doctors.
School was probably my biggest challenge having cataracts. I always failed my eye exams at school and the nurse never understood why. It blew her mind that I could be wearing glasses/contacts and still fail the eye exam. In class, I always needed to sit in the front of the class just so I could see the board. Though we usually sat in alphabetical order which meant I was always in the front row, so I can’t really complain.
The one thing I hated the most about my cataracts were probably the fact that I had glasses. I always loved the way glasses looked on other people, but not myself. I never got teased or anything for wearing glasses, but I couldn’t help but feel self conscience. I even do still to this day. I actually wouldn’t wear glasses until about 3rd grade. I hated them so much that I begged my parents for contacts when I hit 7th grade. This was around the time that I started experimenting with makeup. I never did anything crazy, but me learning to put makeup on and learning to put contacts in really didn’t mix. It’s part of the reason I actually don’t wear makeup. I was constantly getting eyeshadow or eyeliner in my contacts. I give everyone props that wears makeup and contacts.
Now heres the weird thing about wear glasses or contacts…they don’t actually correct my cataracts. I only wear glasses/contacts to keep my good eye from getting worse. Can you see how frustrating it is to have to wear glasses that don’t even help you see in both eyes? Yeah. I know. My whole life I never let it get to me too much, because I am so use to it that I forget sometimes there’s even something wrong with my vision, even though I am fairly blind in one eye.
I kind of wish people knew more about cataracts for the simple fact I am constantly being asked for my glasses to ‘see how blind’ I am. My eyesight isn’t something you can just compare to anyone else’s and I am not saying my eyesight is even the worst. Some people can’t see at all and I am grateful for the vision that I do have, but having people try my glasses on all the time and telling me ‘your vision isn’t that bad’ is kind of annoying. You don’t know my vision and I don’t know yours.
I am far from an expert when it comes to congenital cataracts. I feel like I am learning something new every time I get my yearly check ups. For awhile I always talked about getting eye surgery in hopes of correcting my vision. My eye doctor never seemed like it would be a good idea but I never lost hope. Recently I started going to a new eye doctor who seemed like she knew more about my cataracts. I spoke with her about surgery and was told that it probably wouldn’t correct my vision due to the fact that my cataracts are very deep in my eye, plus I am at a high risk for glaucoma (a condition of increased pressure within the eyeball, causing gradual loss of sight). I’m not gonna lie, it sucked to hear that there is nothing i can do, but that’s not why I am writing this. I am not writing this for sympathy or anything like that, but rather to inform (from the little knowledge that I know about my cataracts) or inspire. While everything I told you really sucks, it can always be worse. This is something I have lived with my whole life. It has been a long 23 years, but honestly it doesn’t really phase me. I get to see the world in a way no one else can. It’s something that makes me unique from everyone else. I don’t think I’d be me without it.
Embrace your imperfections.