No doubt, you’ve already created an image in your mind from each of these three phrases. But imagine being blind from a very young age, not knowing the difference between orange, blue and green.
All your life, you’ve been told the sky is blue. So when you undergo a corneal transplant as an adult, the first thing you do is look up and see the beautiful blue canopy called sky. But then someone offers you a blueberry. Wait–that’s not the same color as the sky. How can it be a blue berry? And blue jeans are another color all together. In fact, they can be several different colors. How can all of these be blue?
As sighted people, we learn about shading and variations of color as we grow and mature. But to someone who has gained their sight as an adult, the shades and variations appear to be separate and distinct colors, I discovered in researching this question.
Facial and even gender recognition create problems as well. Even the faces of close loved ones are difficult to recognize for those who never learned to rely on faces and body structure to identify people. In addition, facial expressions mean nothing when you’ve never learned to associate emotions with the expressions.
Another important issue is depth perception. Over time, children with sight develop depth perception organically by crawling, reaching and even falling. But without vision to gauge distance, depth perception is stymied. And the adult brain finds it virtually impossible to “catch up” when vision is restored.
Fascinating, isn’t it? When I created a blind character for my middle-grade novel series, the plan was to bring him back in the final book with a corneal transplant. I had no idea the difficulties that would entail for someone who doesn’t remember ever being able to see. Building a story around the adjustments would have been intriguing, but I feared they’d take over the rest of the story. In the end, I kept my character blind.
So was all that research wasted? Not when I’m left with an incredible appreciation for this amazing gift of sight.
Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a camp in southern Wisconsin, much like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp Series. Besides writing, Mary enjoys knitting, reading and being outdoors where she can truly appreciate the gift of sight while watching the sun rise and set. Her favorite color is any shade of blue. She and her husband make their home in Texas with a rescued Golden Retriever. Find her on the Web at MaryHamiltonBooks.com and take a look at her book, See No Evil.