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Losing Sight, Shifting Perspective: a Journey Through Sight Loss

Yahya Pandor lost his sight to macular degeneration - and in this post, he shares the highs and lows of his emotional journey.

Yahya, a sharply dressed young man wearing pink pants, a blue blazer and dark glasses, holding his mobility cane in the middle of a cobblestone street decorated with bright paper lanterns.

Losing my sight is easily the worst part about going blind for me.

The actual process of losing your sight is terrible. You know what’s happening, but maybe not when and not how bad it might end up. What if I’m one of the lucky cases? Or what if it fully deteriorates and I’m still not ready?

You find out you are losing your sight, and it’s gotten to the point where you can’t do things exactly the way you used to. You start to integrate these “low vision” things into your life, you hope it’ll give you a little more time. They become less and less useful, and you’re left going “F**k, I don’t actually know how to be blind.”

You become a little (or a lot) convinced that at some point, if these tools fail you, you’re not going to be able to keep doing the things you love.

You start to fall out of love with things you enjoy because it’s hard to keep up. You’re so angry about it all because it feels like everything about the only world you’ve ever known, an intensely visual world, is being torn from you in piece by piece and you don’t feel like you have any control over the process.

You lose the magnificent sky and the lush grass and the blossoming trees. The beautiful details on your loved one’s faces, the special looks that were just for you, mundane normal things like being able to read a menu or a street sign. You can see just enough and are still so attached to the visual world that what you can’t see tempts you all the time. 

It is not a grieving of the past but for the future – the acute loss of opportunity. Losing what you had quite literally envisaged.

Therapy because you need help digging yourself out of the emotional hole you were stuck in where it felt like nothing would ever get better and life would never be normal. (A good thing I am already in therapy…)

And maybe you lose more vision quickly, or maybe it happens slowly, but something really remarkable happens over time: you start to forget some of the visual details, sometimes a lot of them. That’s terrifying and triggers its own crisis. You don’t want to forget your loved one’s smile or the way the beautiful landscapes and views look. You don’t want to be that blind! You want to remember all those intricate details!

You start to build these new pictures of the world with everyone and everything around you, and your loved ones are going to be this great big picture of touch and smell and sound and experiences, and sure you will always want to see them but it doesn’t matter because you will still have them and love them.

To me, going blind is a process with somewhat distinct stages: Before, when I was sighted. During, where I am, partially sighted and stuck in between clinging to the sighted parts and scared. And hopefully a third one of full acceptance, embracing a different yet still fulfilling life.

It sucks. But I am getting better, learning to let go of the emotional baggage that came with having “low vision” and that damn it all, I am going to figure it out.

Sometimes it really is dreadful. Sometimes you hit enough roadblocks in a world that’s built for sighted people that you hate it, feeling alone and lost. 

I am trying to shift perspective which will come with time, experience and distance. and what I am feeling about losing my sight now probably isn’t going to be what I will feel about being blind in the future.

But I will persevere…

Because it gets better.

The above piece I wrote in the midst of my sight loss, since the start of my journey to present day has been nearly two years and all my vision has gone other than light perception. And so much has changed. I have adapted and overcome and even thrived. I am about to graduate university with a degree in counselling; hopefully I will be able to help others going through a similar journey to mine. And it has allowed me to process and let go of the emotional baggage I had with losing sight.

And with tragedy comes opportunity, with the help of my brother, I have used my sight loss to help educate and entertain. We create short videos that have reached millions of people, informing the public how blind people live and excel, proving disability does not hold me back.

I have not only persevered as I intended but I have fully embraced who I am and am made a success of it. It does get better!

About the author

Yahya Pandor is a blind advocate, a counsellor-in-training, and a Jiujitsu competitor. He also runs a popular TikTok account with his brother where they explore life with blindness. You can also follow Yahya on Instagram.  

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