A woman stands in front of a giant vision chart, half of which has faded away.

The Day I Realized I Was Losing My Vision

A few years ago, I had to go to the DMV to get my license renewed, as we have to every 4 years. Shortly before this, I started to really lose vision in my right eye during topical steroid withdrawal. However, until this day, I didn’t realize how severe it was.

Taking the vision exam

As I’m sure many of you are familiar with, when you get your license renewed, you may have to take a vision exam. At the time, I didn’t have my scleral lens yet and didn't have a diagnosis. The process of finding a doctor had just begun for me.

I stepped up to the counter with all my paperwork after taking a new photo for my driver’s license. Then, it was time for the vision test. I leaned onto the machine and just saw one column and started to read it off. The lady at the counter seemed a bit confused. She patiently asked about the second column, to which I replied: “there’s a second column?”

A rude awakening

That’s when it hit me. The vision in my right eye was almost completely gone. I couldn’t even see the column, let alone anything within it. I stepped back from the counter, pulling all the strength I had left from deep within just to hold my tears back. A feeling of concern and anxiety flooded over me. Would I not be able to drive? Oh god, this is so bad, I thought.

After following the lady to another counter to complete the process, she explained she’d have to put a new restriction on my license. The restriction would be that I had to have both side rearview mirrors at all times when I’m driving. Okay, no big deal. But I was still in shock at what just happened. I was overcome with a feeling of grief and worry after being awakened to how bad my vision had gotten. She looked at me with kindness in her eyes, glancing down at my bandaged arm. My hands were covered with gloves in an attempt to hide the rashes covering my body.

Compassion makes a difference

She proceeded to look me right in the eyes and politely asked “what happened to you?” The pain was written all over my face. I looked at her nervously, feeling the compassion in her eyes. Suddenly, I was bawling in the middle of the crowded DMV. There was no way I could hold it in anymore.

I told her about the past several years of my life and my journey with topical steroid withdrawal and other health issues. Then, I showed her pictures of the earlier stages of my journey when I looked and felt like I was covered in third-degree burns. She was completely blown away, but empathetic and understanding. She comforted me as much as she could. It truly made me feel seen and understood in that moment and made all the difference.

I finished renewing my license after a conversation and profound connection with her. She informed me I can come back when I get my eyes sorted out to change the restrictions, if I wanted to.

A better outcome

This day will always stay in my memory. Losing my vision has been one of the scariest experiences in my life. I am extremely grateful I was able to find a wonderful doctor (after several tries), and was then diagnosed with corneal scarring, keratoconus, and chronic dry eye. While it is very bothersome to deal with the symptoms and spend more time on my health, it is rewarding.

Now, I can see (almost perfectly) with the help of a scleral lens and daily treatment for dry eyes. This is something I didn’t know would ever be possible again. What more could I ask for?

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