Cataracts

I have never been an athletic person. While friends were playing t-ball and basketball, I was not allowed. My parents were very restrictive on sports; they were afraid I would damage my “good” eye. I was born with a cataract in my right eye. This is very unusual as cataracts typically develop in persons who are in their later years of life. When a cataract is removed, it is necessary to remove your lens with it; thus a lens implant is needed for you to have any hope of vision restoration.

My parents located a study of lens implants in children. The goal was to determine how long a lens implant will last. Cataract patients in their later years of life typically only survive another ten years after their lens implant, thus it was not known if a lens implant would last one’s entire life. The instructions given to my parents were to be cautious; any jar to the head would knock the lens implant loose and cause serious damage. That sealed my fate for the chance of any sports.

I was allowed to try gymnastics in elementary school after begging my parents for weeks. All of the girls in school were signing up and I wanted desperately to fit in. However, I had to quit before classes ended. I was terrible at it; the only thing I could do was cartwheels and round-ups. While the rest of the class quickly moved passed tumbling, balance beam, and un-even bars, I felt like I was wasting the coach’s time. It wasn’t until I took a college art class and couldn’t center my drawing on the canvass that I realized the problem all along was a lack of depth perception. This was a side-effect no one cared to mention to me.

I took it upon myself to talk to my ophthalmologist about sports the summer before I started junior high. In junior high if you weren’t in athletics, you were a loser. To my surprise, the doc said absolutely I could play, as long I kept my glasses on to protect my eyes. Athletics didn’t go well either, while all of the other kids had years of experience and practice behind them, I was so far behind the curve that the coach’s benched me the entire time.

I had an epiphany In 2006. If any jar to the head could knock my lens implant loose, then it could happen if I fall on the 22 steps leading up to our apartment at the time, or in a car accident. I choose to live life not in a bubble! I’m still not one for group sports, but I could run by myself, and depth perception wouldn’t be too much of a problem. I have been a happy runner ever since.

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