Post Title: How Environment Impacts Low Vision

This week has been filled with odd moments. But in retaining our independence and choosing to remain mobile with a white cane, we have to take into account various environments – and give ourselves grace. Sometimes we need to laugh, and other times, look beyond the surface. Discernment is everything.

Who is Whom?

My friend, Sue, was having a garage sale—inside her actual garage—so I told her I’d pop in and say hello. When I arrived, I entered her garage and saw her sitting on a couple of steps leading into the garage from the house. I chose that moment to fill her in on my brother, who had been hospitalized a few days prior.

While I was talking, I thought Geez, I never knew she and her daughter looked so much alike. I should be more observant of these things.

I concluded my monologue after expressing my anxiety. To my surprise, when Sue responded it came from a few feet away. Then the dim outline of a table in the back of the garage came into view. Sue was seated behind the center of the table. I looked from the steps to the table and realized I’d been focusing on her actual twenty-six-year-old daughter and not my friend.

“Oh!” Flustered, I covered my eyes and then removed my hand from them. “it’s very dark in here.” Just as I said that, my gaze swept through the garage. The interior looked nearly as bright as the outside. How could I have mistaken my friend’s daughter for her?

Was it …?

my legally blind eyesight?

Often when I change environments I can’t see what else is in the room because of my lack of peripheral vision. Slowly, as my eyes adjust to the new (usually dimmer) environment, the rest of the room comes into view.

But it could have been something as simple as seeing a body and mistaking Sue’s daughter for her. Isn’t that simply ‘a senior moment’?

I’ll never know! But probably (or at least I’d like to think) it was a combination of the two.

Hidden Environments

I had left mid-morning and interrupted my writing routine to remove a truck-full of weeds I pulled over the weekend. I had promised my brother if he drove me “to the land” (my brother’s land), I would do all the work in getting rid of the weeds. It turned out to be a lot of work, so thank goodness my nephew was on the property to help.

My brother wanted to go to a pizza restaurant, which I had never visited before. We argued on the way (something that must have been pretty silly as I don’t even remember what it was a week later).

We entered the restaurant. And, in doing so, I lost all sense of the interior layout. It felt like going into a dark hole. I couldn’t even find my brother!

“Are you going to order?” my brother asked.

“Where ARE you?” I turned in a circle to find him, but with no luck.

“I’m here.”

I frowned, frustrated. “Where’s ‘here.’?”

“At the table.”

When I turned to face the direction of his voice, I saw him seated at a small square table. “Oh, there you are.”

“You have to order at the counter,” he directed, pointing forward.

I shook my head as if to make sense of what was going on. “Well, why are you sitting down then?”

“I’m tired.” Indeed, he did look tired. “ You said you wanted to pay for your own food.”

I walked up to the counter, which was still quite dim. I couldn’t see any details from the menu on the wall. “Yeah, I did. Are we just eating here for me?”

It hit me at that moment how overwhelmed I felt. If I was the only one ordering, we didn’t need to eat here. I didn’t know what to order. I had never been in this restaurant before, and I had no idea what they had. I couldn’t ask the clerk—if he or she appeared—to read the entire menu to me. ‘Course, I could order a slice of pepperoni pizza …

Irritation bubbled over at my brother for putting me in this situation. Didn’t he know what it was like for me to enter an unfamiliar restaurant with no help at all from him and having to wait for my eyes to adjust? He could at least read the menu or tell me what he recommended I order! I couldn’t make a decision based on all the variables. Plus, I really should be home writing. “I don’t need to eat.”

Mike stood up. “I guess we’re not going to eat here, after all.” He sounded disappointed.

Why wasn’t he going to eat? He liked eating out.

Food was usually a taking me on my errands at some point or another in our day. I knew Mike was running short of money so I said I’d pay for my own. But was he counting on me paying for him? Ah, I can’t figure him out. I didn’t think he expected that.

I stomped back to the truck. Real ladylike, Amy.

Mike dragged his feet, with little energy.

Neither of us spoke on the ride home. Right before we arrived, Mike said, “I was really hungry.”

“Well, why didn’t you eat?”

It probably had gone from, “I’ll treat” to “I’ll pay you later” or “thanks for buying.” I couldn’t read his mind these days. I couldn’t even see the interior of the restaurant.

At that moment, life didn’t feel fair.

What we lacked in communication with each other, we made up by going into emotional overdrive. I felt too short-tempered to sort it out. I raised my voice and closed his truck door a little too hard. Mike grumbled and stomped off to the porch. At this point, the best thing to do—go our own ways.

Life Lesson

Two days later, I found out my brother, Mike, had walking pneumonia. They drained 1.2 liters of water off his heart.

Sometimes there’s more to a situation than meets the eye—so to speak—and we’re each caught enmeshed in our own problematic environments to realize the other needs help.


Dear Lord, give us patience to see beyond the shadows. Teach us to value and celebrate the presence of each other. We need to speak out our truths to illuminate what we cannot see in another person’s environment.

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You have just read “How Environments Impact Low Vision” by Amy L. Bovaird. © June 1, 2021. All rights reserved.