Well, that’s a rather extreme case. Still, it did happen.
A recent release from Britain’s College of Optometrists has detailed some of the stranger predicaments that low vision has led people into. The College urged their readers to get an eye exam posthaste and emphasized their point with the above story of a patient who mistook his hearing aids for cashew nuts. The fellow in question is fine (though he did have to seek medical help to have the hearing aids removed) but that anecdote’s only the tip of a very odd iceberg.
Mishaps and Miscalculations
The stories shared by the college ranged from the bizarre to the positively worrying. One patient, a student, misread a sign, wandered into the wrong exam room, and wound up missing his exam. Another lady actually took off her socks and shoes in front of a very confused optometrist, believing that she had walked into her podiatrist’s office.
On the more alarming end of the scale, a pilot with low vision actually pulled off the difficult task of landing a commercial flight safely in thick fog, only to taxi the wrong way after touching down.
Some other highlights: people who mistook rocks for dogs (a mistake only realized after they’d commented on them to friends); a badminton player who was hit by a shuttlecock after failing to notice it hurtling toward him; an individual who may have accidentally made a new friend after confusing a stranger at a bar for his girlfriend and starting a conversation; and a patient who was alarmed by the appearance of children in the road, only to realize later that they were bollards.
These will likely all sound familiar to anyone living with low vision. Children and teens might be especially red around the ears right now – that window of time in which low vision hasn’t been diagnosed yet can have students scootching closer and closer to blackboards in order to read. Not to mention failing to recognize friends until they get within 10 feet.
As you might expect, these are far from the only stories of low-vision follies on the internet. The blog, “How to See with Low Vision” mentions a bit of travel confusion:
I left home a week ago to visit my parents in Mississippi. There are always mishaps when I travel. First I left my shampoo and conditioner at a friend’s house where I spent the night. Second I bought a new hair gel which came in a tube similar to my toothpaste. Well guest what? I put gel on my toothbrush. I realized it only because the colors are different. I quickly washed out my toothbrush. The phase only for external use flashed in my head. I guess I will have to mark the gel so I know what it is.
Jane Shilling of the Telegraph (the journal that published the original release from Britain’s College of Optometrists) also weighed in on the subject. For her, low vision has been, if not a blessing, at least an interesting curveball.
She found that it made her braver while riding horseback, and in hindsight considers her struggles with eyesight as a younger woman a character-forming experience. Coping with low-vision can always be a test and it’s amazing how effectively some people rise to the challenge.
Shilling’s vision also gave her a pretty amazing story. Once, while at the London Library, she attempted to kiss Jeremy Paxman after mistaking him for someone she knew. Paxman, a famously blunt broadcaster and host at the BBC took it surprisingly well. Shilling says, “I expect it happens all the time.”
As funny as a lot of these incidents are, they also come with a more serious footnote. Blogger and author Amy Bovaird hits the nail on the head in her post “Smiley Has a Bad Vision Day.” She talks about a video of a sign-waving mascot’s accident, saying that it reminds her of one of her own rougher vision days.
As Bovaird says, low vision can be mortifying. It’s hard to feel confident or self-assured right after bumping into an easily avoidable obstacle or waving at the wrong person. While it’s often funny to watch, it’s less humorous for the person taking the spill or bumping into things – poor vision can draw teasing and some serious embarrassment.
Staying Healthy and Happy
Understanding the difficulty that low vision can greatly help friends and family that have to deal with it. While it’s perfectly fine to laugh at these stories, realize that people close to you may be suffering from very similar problems. They might be able to laugh at their trip-ups, but give them the benefit of the doubt and try to provide a supportive environment.
To safeguard your own vision, take the advice of Britain’s College of Optometrists – get an eye exam. Many adults will go for considerable amounts of time without any help even after noticing changes in their vision. Don’t let that be you. Take steps to ensure that your vision remains at its best. Schedule exams, eat healthy, and consider starting up an eye vitamins regime.