Monday, February 20, 2006

#17: Eye eye

There aren’t many magazines in the waiting room at eye casualty. That makes a certain stark kind of sense, when you think about it. I think there was one when I was in there on Friday; it’s the sort of thing you notice when you’re really not sure how worried you should be but can’t help fearing for the worst.

Ok, so I am being a little melodramatic. There is no unhappy ending here as such – otherwise I’d be having a great deal more trouble typing this entry than is presently the case. After giving me something to dilate my pupils, and sitting me in an examination room where I could overhear another patient discussing his cornea grafts (I AM squeamish, and I’m happy to admit as such given that it usually prevents me from having to sit through horror movies and/or Plastic Surgery Live!, or whatever), a presumably very highly qualified chap had a good poke around with a couple of different kinds of really bright light and declared that if anything was in fact wrong then it certainly wasn’t obvious.

This came – unsurprisingly – as something of a relief. To say that it is disconcerting when your vision starts playing silly buggers for no apparent reason at all is a bit of an understatement; bad for anyone no doubt, but even more so when you’re as prone to thinking things over in as minute detail as I am. I moved swiftly from what the bloody hell is going on here to argh, what on earth am I going to do with my life if I go blind in literally the blink of an eye. Ahem.

So, it turns out that occasional moments where it seems as if I’ve been staring at a light when I haven’t, and an accompanying slight lapse of the focussing front are issues that I have nothing to worry about. I’m not sure I should really be revealing this sort of thing on a website that is intended to make me attractive to potential employers, but needless to say I will be heading to my regular optician for a second opinion just as soon as I can make it to Bournemouth; the relevance is in that tendency of mine to think these things through a little too much – the loss of something so fundamental to me as my vision seems as worthy a topic for discussion as any in this regard. Even if such a loss is realistically unlikely.

Imagine it – imagine if you lost your sight: what would it mean for your everyday life. I am, as a casual perusal of the other elements of this page should define, currently having a go at making myself into a motoring journalist. If I were to experience some kind of temporary or permanent vision loss that would be the end of all hope, wouldn’t it? I mean, I was worried. But then I considered it a little more, and wondered instead whether it wouldn’t inadvertently carve out a niche for me – I mean, how many other motoring journalists do you know of who are vision impaired?

This isn’t as silly as it may sound (and it is certainly not meant to be disparaging to any the genuinely blind). Ok, so if my sight was permanently damaged it would bring a number of disadvantages, sure, but would it actually mean game over?

Biggest problem – worst case scenario: I would no longer be able to actually drive a car. This isn’t as crippling (er, euw to the word choice?) as it sounds; there is a motoring correspondent who writes for one of the big daily broadsheets who does not hold a driving license – I’m not being funny and that’s not an urban myth, it’s true. I bet he gets the sort of looks I usually get when I tell people I don’t drink alcohol (no, really, I am a student – honestly). But anyway, so not being able to drive the car isn’t necessarily a deal breaking issue – however, I would miss it. That wouldn’t be fun.

Another thing that wouldn’t be fun – not being able to see what the vehicle looks like, either. Although this would spare me the entire current Peugeot range, it would also mean missing out on any passing Aston Martin, or the latest offering from Pagani. For the sake of impartiality, however, this might be a boon; testing would be genuinely “blind” – meaning that interior plastics really would get appreciated for quality and feel, and ride comfort (unfortunately, handling would be rather difficult to assess) judged only on ability rather than expectation. Ease of access, the user friendliness of controls, the depth of talent devoted to ergonomics – all of these things would suddenly take on an added dimension of importance. In other words, the elements of car design that matter the most to the average buyer…

A timely reminder, then, of what is worth keeping in mind – even if I do still have full use of my facilities. For which I am very, very thankful.


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