Eyes Alive

By Jacqueline Dowling

image from tinglebytes.com

image from tinglebytes.com

It may be because I’m partially sighted that I feel such empathy with the very elderly and sight-challenged members of our library: of which there are many. And why The Friends have managed to set in motion sourcing of a screen which fits over a page, and magnifies the words. Our local Specsavers franchisee and Worcester Institute for the Blindare helping with this project and, if successful, we hope to open a far wider world of reading to those who need it.   Not sure whether the screens, if they still exist, are measured in diopters or whether they have an adjustable height, we’ll see – hopefully.   Since our library is no longer able to buy large print and talking books, the need for alternatives has grown even greater. It’s a pity about the Talking Books but, human nature being what it is, our collection has suffered from heavy-handed usage, scratching, breaking of discs, ‘mislaying’ – the list is endless. So, no more TBs.

Now, why am I partially sighted and do I want to share the reason? Yes, I do because it’s an avoidable virus and, because I picked it up as a small child, I’ve grown accustomed to being one-eyed and am totally thankful for the good health of what remains!   It freaks me out to see dogs and cats licking children’s and adults’ faces. These animals, to put it crudely, lick their bottoms – and then are allowed to lick humans’ faces.   The virus is Toxoplasma or Toxocara; carried in the mucous of dogs and cats, their droppings etc and passed on to humans. It took twenty one years for me to be diagnosed, by which time the sight in my left eye was zilch. Cortisone injections into the eye cleared the periphery, but the pain during childhood, the blinding headaches are something I’d never wish on any child.   Recently I was shown a picture of the back of each eye. The left looks as if a mound of volcanic lava has been deposited – the result of blood vessels rupturing in the choroid coat.

But I’m one of the lucky ones, I have a good strong right eye and lead a normal ‘fully sighted’ life. It can also affect the brain and legs.

So, if this non self-pitying blog has passed on any useful info, GOOD. I’m happy to pass on the images to anyone interested, and just so you know I’m not drivelling on and beating a drum.


6 thoughts on “Eyes Alive

  1. Sue says:

    It’s a fantastic idea, I’m sure it will be very popular for those without 20/20 vision. I’ve tried a few talking books but find it difficult to concentrate while I listen to them, so I think the screen is an excellent choice.

    It always freaks me out how people ‘kiss’ their pets and your story freaks me out even more!

    • jacky says:

      Thanks Sue. I hope the message spreads because most pet lovers (and I’m among them) simply do not want to know, and children need to be protected – thanks for giving me the space. Yes, the reading aid idea is spreading, groups forming locally and getting in touch directly with Worcester.

  2. Susan says:

    When I returned to studying in my forties, I found that I couldn’t read the small print in the text books properly. I managed to track down a wonderful curved perspex/plastic ruler which magnified each line of text as you moved it down the page. Wonderful invention! I hope you have similar success with your screens in the library.

    • jacky says:

      This sounds a better option than the flat one we’ve got Susan. Do you know whether this ruler is still available?

      • Susan says:

        Jacky, I bought it from what was then the Natal Society for the Blind. When I went back a few years later to get one for my mother they didn’t have them any more. They had a smaller one that magnified about half a line of text and wasn’t as easy for arthritic fingers to hold, plus they had a whole lot more red tape to deal with – you couldn’t just buy one but had to have a doctor’s letter and an eye test etc. Eventually I bought one from a camera shop but it’s not quite as good as the original which I still use. Your screens sound as if they are perfect for the job, though.

  3. jacky says:

    Thanks Susan. Why is it, I wonder, that when something is seen to be working well, it’s taken off the market?! Worcester has an excellent selection of aids, reasonably priced so I’ll enquire into the original ruler…

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