Activated - - NEWS - Elsa Sichrovsky is a free­lance writer. She lives with her fam­ily in Tai­wan.

As a child, I had a lazy eye and blurred vi­sion, which made it nec­es­sary for me to wear glasses from the time I was seven years old. In or­der to keep my my­opia from wors­en­ing, I had strict lim­its on my read­ing—no read­ing at night, and any read­ing only al­lowed when sit­ting at a desk with a bright desk lamp and proper pos­ture. Watch­ing tele­vi­sion or movies was some­thing that had to be min­i­mized, along with other eye-strain­ing hob­bies, such as paint­ing, sewing, and crafts.

I'd watch other chil­dren ly­ing on a couch, en­joy­ing a book or hap­pily watch­ing car­toons for hours, and won­der why I had to be so dif­fer­ent, while ev­ery­one else en­joyed the use of their vis­ual senses with­out a sec­ond thought.

In ad­di­tion to my sense of iso­la­tion, my im­paired vi­sion re­quired me to have weekly eye check­ups and vis­ual ther­apy from the time I was eight un­til I was eigh­teen. And I had to get new glasses when­ever my my­opia got worse—which it did reg­u­larly. Since to keep my eye­sight from wors­en­ing I had to keep good read­ing habits and pos­ture, the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion was al­ways cause for in­creased anx­i­ety and new re­stric­tions. I re­sented the fact that my life de­pended on the vi­cis­si­tudes of my my­opia level fluc­tu­a­tions, a process that went on in­vis­i­bly inside me and that seemed to ar­bi­trar­ily de­te­ri­o­rate in spite of all my ef­forts to pro­tect my eye­sight.

When my phys­i­cal growth plateaued, the my­opia sta­bi­lized. I no longer had to go for weekly vis­ual ther­apy, though I still had to go for check­ups sev­eral times a year. Yet when I look back on the strug­gles my par­ents and I faced with my eyes, I see that con­tend­ing with the un­cer­tainty and pain of this af­flic­tion taught me to be grate­ful for such an in­nate and ba­sic bod­ily func­tion as eye­sight. Each time a checkup re­vealed that my eyes had re­mained sta­ble, I was filled with joy and grat­i­tude. As my eyes sta­bi­lized and I was al­lowed to read and paint in mod­er­a­tion, I trea­sured each time the re­stric­tions on my ac­tiv­i­ties were eased. My im­paired eyes have brought anx­i­eties and frus­tra­tions into my life that oth­ers are spared from, yet they have been the eyes of grat­i­tude that see joy in the ex­pe­ri­ences that oth­ers might take for granted.

By Elsa Sichrovsky

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