New Castle News

Josh Drespling

May 31, 2014

Josh Drespling: The eyes have it

NEW CASTLE — It has been said that the eyes are the doorway to the soul.

I'm not sure if I believe that, but for what it's worth, my eyes have done their part to make me into the person I am today. I am a very visual person. I think in pictures, remember in images, and take photos in my mind so I can remember things.

If you were to rattle off a string of numbers to me, they would mean nothing. However, if those same numbers were to be written down, thus translated to a visual form, I will most likely be able to recall them months, or even years, later.

Additionally, I work in a visual field. I am a graphic designer by schooling and trade. My chosen field encompasses most anything visual, be it photography, web graphics, or even text on a page. I also work in the printing industry, which is entirely dependent on visually representing someone's thoughts or ideas. I have to accurately reproduce colors, temperature, and emotion visually. Needless to say, without my sight, my world would come to a screeching halt.

As if to contrast my visual existence, or perhaps keep me perpetually teetering on a ledge, I was born with a lazy eye.  This lazy eye, or Amblyopia as it is properly called, has afflicted me my entire life. Many people mistake the term lazy eye for an eye that is misaligned or floating. That is something completely different and is not the case in my situation.

In fact, I have two very uniform and piercing baby blues that I often get compliments on (blush). Funny thing is, if these compliment-wielding folks only knew the trouble I have been through with my eyes, they may be more enamored with their resilience and scars than their inherent beauty.

With my condition, the brain has turned off the processing of signals from the optic nerve of my left eye due to the extremely poor vision. It has compensated the shortcoming by turning the other eye up to 11, leaving me with one “good” eye and one “bad” eye.  I have better-than-average sight in my right eye and can see things far off in the distance. I can read road signs from nearly a mile a way, and I'm able to leap tall buildings with a single bound (or something like that).

But this strength is also my weakness. An Achilles Heel, if you will. It is the point at which I can be struck down. Throughout my adult life, I feel as though my “good” eye has been under constant attack. I have had countless events with my eyes and every one has sent big warning flashes across my mind. Much like your life flashing before your eyes, these events are a dismal reminder that I am only one small misstep away from being blind. One flying piece of debris away from having my world crumble around me.

Last weekend I was doing some tile work on our house. I was using a wet saw to cut one of the final pieces of tile for my ongoing project, when a shard of porcelain tile came zooming into my eye. I tried to blink and turn my head, but I was no match for the speed of this projectile. It lodged itself in the lower part of my eye. With every sequential blink I could feel the sharp edges grinding against my cornea.

I eventually was able to extract the piece of tile from my eye, but not before all the glorious warning signs began frolicking in my head. They were there reminding me just how fragile I was.

I've had several other experiences like this. One was while using a weedwacker and a nice big chunk of plant stem came straight for my “good” eye. I was able to blink, but it hit the outside of my eye lid with incredible force. It did manage to leave me with a slight black eye and a spot that hurts to this day if I touch it wrong.

In 2002, I was at work and managed to get a several centimeter paper cut across the surface of my “good” eye. I have relayed that entire story in a previous blog, but to summarize, it was excruciating. I spent over a decade fighting the lasting effect of this attack on my eyes. I’ve had several procedures to repair and remove the scar tissue from this eye. Those procedures had modest success in eliminating the nagging pain that I have since resigned myself to living with.

I have had several other close calls with my “good” eye and can only speculate that my eyes must be destined to capture visions of some climatic world event or bare witness to some significant act in human history. Why else would nature and my surroundings be so dead-set on destroying their functionality?

I jest, of course, but it does make you stop and think. Why don’t I ever listen to my wife, mother, daughter, the tool's manufacturer, or even my own inner voice and put on the stupid safety glasses?

They are sitting right there beside me, after all.

 

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