Thursday, April 26, 2018


Yesterday I picked up a new pair of progressive bifocals with photochromic lenses. I am diagnosed with myopia, presbyopia, and photophobia – ocular disorders. I guess you could say that I have special needs or that I am differently-abled. You might even say I have a disAbility (with an emphasis on that A because you say I shouldn't let these things define me). Either way, without accommodations, I am severely disabled in our society and thus have a disability.

Myopia can sometimes be cured with surgery but only for some. Photophobia can only be reversed if it is caused by a secondary curable ailment but often this is not the case. Presbyopia has no cure. The only solution for most is to use accommodations which is how my case is approached. Many people today with the same type of disorders must use expensive accommodations to survive in society. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are more than 3 million US cases per year of presbyopia and myopia, each. According to the NIH, photophobia is common among many different populations including migraine sufferers, people with dry eyes, anxiety disorders, people who take different prescription drugs, and many more common diagnoses.

Do you feel pity for us?

So what are these strange sounding disorders anyway? They are some of the most common ailments on the planet: nearsightedness, age-related farsightedness, and light sensitivity. These are the reasons people wear eyeglasses and sunglasses.

How is your pity-meter now?

Common eye disorders have become so prevalent in society that we accept them now as a normal part of the human experience. We accept them. And when we accept something as part of the normal human experience, we simply accommodate it without so much as a blink (pun intended).

Make no mistake about it – these are disabilities. Without eyeglasses, people with even mild myopia cannot see well enough to drive or to be safe in any situation that requires visual acuity. Presbyopia eliminates the ability to read anything but extremely large print without magnification (reading glasses). Without sunglasses, people with light sensitivity cannot venture out into the daylight even on cloudy days. Without accommodations, people with these disorders cannot function in our society. This is the very essence of disability.

Do you believe wearing common eyeglasses deserves the title “special needs,” “differently-abled,” or a misshapen form of the word “disAbility?” I simply doubt it. And so neither do people with other disabilities deserve to have these labels imparted upon them.

The truth of the matter is, the only difference between wearing eyeglasses and the other things we currently call disabilities is acceptance.

It is time to stop drawing that line and accept that disability is just a part of the human experience.