I had eye surgery at the start of this year. It was nothing special, simply the removal of my existing natural lenses with artificial replacements, bringing my vision as close as possible to normal.
I chose to have each eye operated on separately. It is perfectly safe to have both eyes done at the same time, but I chose to do them independently. It is more hassle and can make reading and writing awkward during the time that one eye might require reading glasses while the other doesn’t.
The result of the first surgery was a shock. My vision was crystal clear and as expected I now needed to use reading glasses, but comparison with my as yet untouched eye revealed that I had lost approximately 35 degrees of peripheral vision. I hastily saw the surgeon again.
The surgeon examined my eyes, consulted my records, and talked to another specialist. There was nothing wrong with my eye, it now had normal vision. The shape of the lens that had been removed however indicated that I may have had abnormal peripheral vision before the surgery. I had had a superpower and never been aware.
Everything has changed.
I now understand how people can wear hoodies with the hood up. For me the loss of vision in doing so was so severe that it just seemed nonsensical, like wearing blinkers.
Driving became a challenge. While my forward vision had improved, I really felt the loss of my extra 70 degrees of peripheral vision. I have to move my eyes and turn my head a lot more to gain the same situational awareness in multiple lane traffic. Even simple things like walking the dog have changed because I do have to work a lot harder to keep the same perceptual sense of my surroundings.
This has had both positives and negatives with regard to my work. In my personal safety lectures and classes, I’ve always advised looking around you and using reflective surfaces like vehicle and building windows to keep better track of people and movement around you. Now that I’m having to do the same even more myself perhaps my advice is more ‘on point’? What I have found of course is that both training and teaching is harder because my ability to monitor and process my immediate surroundings has been reduced to ‘normal’. I’m having to look around in class a great deal more and any ‘circle drills’ are a lot harder. It’s even easier to get surprised!
I’m sad to have lost my superpower, but pleased to be back training. At least with my improved forward vision I might be able to spot a genetically engineered spider.
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