Throughout my life, I have witnessed my family’s struggles with eye health and have seen the impact of vision loss first hand. From an early age, I have learnt not to take vision for granted and that a lack of vision doesn’t hold you back. My grandmother, father, mother and sister have all experienced varying degrees of vision loss but all embrace life.
My grandmother’s need for glasses and the changed pigmentation of one of her eyes resulted from a childhood accident where a sewing needle pierced her eye, leaving her partially blind. She went on to raise three children and care for a number of grandchildren, including myself. I enjoyed walking with her to kindergarten every single day. I have seen the continuing problems she has faced with cataracts and further vision deterioration as she has aged, but also the benefits and independence she has gained through cataract surgery and lens adjustment.
My father found out in his twenties that his poor eyesight would prevent him from becoming a pilot, a career path reserved only for those with 2020 vision. Being a pilot was something he had aspired to be since he was younger and it drove much of his youth. Now he works in finance, having discovered a different career path that has given him all the happiness and enjoyment in the world. He constantly encourages me to keep myself open to the unexpected, saying that sometimes the things we don’t plan turn out to be the extraordinary events that change who we are and what we thought possible of ourselves.
My mother’s glasses hang around her neck as she goes to work each night. As an instrumental technician, she is able to do the job she loves because glasses help her to focus on finer details. To relax and unwind before going to sleep she always reaches for a book, and her glasses, which allow her to enjoy both work and reading.
For my older sister, the transition to wearing glasses started with the realisation that she couldn’t see the whiteboard clearly at school, and led to a trip to the optometrist that confirmed her low vision. She was initially uncertain about wearing glasses to school, fearing she would be bullied. Since then she has had five different pairs of glasses in eight years. Each unique and bold, my sister’s glasses have ranged from circular black frames, to multi-coloured slim rectangles. I think glasses have actually helped her to become more confident, more able to express herself, inspiring me to do the same in my own life.
My family’s story inspired me to seek work experience at Vision 2020 Australia. I was curious to see how an organisation engaged different members and specifically targeted eye health and I have been amazed with the work Vision 2020 Australia does. I learnt that it works with a number of stakeholders to improve eye health by encouraging communities and at risk individuals to have eye tests regularly. I also learnt about how Vision 2020 Australia works in partnership with its members to eliminate avoidable blindness and ensure that people who are blind and vision impaired are able to play a full part in society.
After a week of work experience at Vision 2020 Australia I know that an individual’s level of vision does not need to hold anyone back from pursuing what they want.