People with low vision or no vision have challenges in life that impact on everything they do every day of their lives. I know because I have low vision, specifically Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), a disease that causes blindness. The pandemic has added another dimension to the challenges we already face. For example, it’s impossible to social distance when you have no side vision. There are additional barriers to crash into; the ones that have been put around store entrances for public health safety. We have to touch more surfaces for visual clues. We often need guidance from a helpful elbow, an elbow that may have been coughed or sneezed into. And not forgetting it’s impossible to get delivery windows at the supermarket, major stores and bottle shops because everyone is doing online shopping now. Many of us don’t have the option to ‘click and collect’ unless we have a lovely support person with a car to do the collecting.
Your eyesight’s not that bad
It’s difficult to explain what it’s like to have RP. Often there’s no need anyway because other people will tell you that ‘your eyesight’s not that bad’. Really, they do. Those exact words spouted out of the mouth of my ex GP once. You have to really see what it’s like so this is where my virtual friend Morten Bonde comes in. He created this incredible video. Morten knows what it’s like to be going blind because he also has RP. I first saw his video on an RP Family Support Group on Facebook of which we are both members. Along with about 15 000 other RPers from all over the world. Morten was very happy to share his video on my Blog.
Free visual testing this way – Covid-19 testing that way
In Victoria, we recently had three weeks reprieve between the first and the current lockdown. The time had come to leave the nest and go for a daily walk. I discovered that nothing had changed much for the RPer since the ‘stay at home’ rule had been eased. You still get the occasional visual assessment free of charge. For instance, I went into my local bakery one day, bumped into a big manly woman who gave me the daggers look. I said, ‘Sorry, I’m blind.’ She replied, ‘you don’t look blind.’ My inner voice said ‘you don’t look stupid.’ I thought a white cane would be an indication of blindness. But it seems not always.
The pandemic won’t affect you much …..
I have also been told recently that ‘the pandemic won’t affect you much personally’. I never respond or question statements like that because I’m over it. But I do wonder why randoms make such outrageous statements. As far as I’m aware feelings are unique to the individual. How can anyone make a judgement about how someone else is feeling? Obviously visually impaired people are already used to a loss of independence so we don’t whinge about the restrictions. It’s unusual to read any whingy comments amongst the 15,000 members of the RP family support group. Instead there is a lot of empathy and sadness shown amongst members. We just get on with it and do what we’re asked to do by our leaders for the safety of ourselves and others.
Do not drive further that five kilometres from your home
To be fair, the non-visually impaired have their own set challenges which for many seem to involve breaking public health pandemic rules. Especially those to do with cars and driving here and there for food. Oh and mustn’t forget fresh air. For example, ‘Do not drive further than five kilometres from your home’. Seems pretty straight forward. This means that people can no longer drive for four hours to get a Big Mac, or drive from Melbourne to Ballarat for some fresh air. Or drive from Frankston to Melbourne to an excellent Indian takeaway joint for ‘Butter Chicken’. They can no longer drive from Werribee to Springvale for groceries. Or drive from Bentleigh to Sunbury for takeaway. All huge drives. If they do they get caught by the police and have to pay a massive fine. The Butter Chicken cost $1652. The cost of the groceries, fresh air and the Big Mac were all around the same price. Seriously, did people do that before the pandemic because they sure as hell are doing it now?
If you live alone with low vision or no vision that’s another dimension. On top of the first dimension …