Sans-Sight Insight

Posted on April 20, 2012


The past three days I’ve spent in a state of low visibility. Yes, the weather has been rubbish in this here dustbowl, but I refer to the toll my own eyesight has had to take as a result.

After a few days of ignoring the warning signs, my suffering pair of ocular organs finally took a stand. It took me a good 10 minutes one morning to painstakingly adjust my vision to the morning light, and when in direct contact with glare, my eyes would water at the rate of the average woman watching a Nicolas Sparks movie. I’d have to blink repeatedly even when indoors in order to cut out the sting on exposure, and even scared off quite a few children in the waiting room of my ophthalmologist.

I was diagnosed with a mild form of corneal inflammation and was prescribed a number of drops, gels and miscellaneous substances with which I was to constantly hydrate said organs of sight. Sadly, no eye patch was prescribed.


It is true when ‘they’ say that on the occasion of a shortcoming in one faculty, one’s other senses are heightened as if to compensate. Of course how wild my imagination turned at the time -contemplating the possibility of a lifetime of blindness- should also be considered part of the equation.

For lying down on the living room sofa with my eyes closed, unable to do very much, I had to settle for an earful of what was most certainly an increase in musical quality of the pigeons outside our window procreating. A fly would buzz by and I could almost feel its wings flutter against my cheek. If said fly had let off some gas at the time, I’m pretty sure my newfound olfactory abilities would have picked up on that too.


What they don’t tell you however, is how the rest of your body atones for the same. My father on dropping in to check up on me, noticed an unnatural slouch to my posture – both spine and neck included. It seems that this was my body’s selfless attempt at shielding me from the glare of the sun/lightbulb which it very well knew I was now averse to.

Another biology flashback struck me when I’d notice a bitter taste at the back of my mouth seconds after dropping said miscellany of fluids down my eye. For the same duct/passageway which drains excess tears down to your nose (recollect the runny nose-watery eyes combo when having had something spicy?) is also connected to the back of your throat. And what with the back of your tongue housing the taste receptors for bitterness, the result is that perfectly horrid after taste from a good dose of eye-drop gunk.

All this connect-the-dots I was playing in complete darkness made me sorely miss the awe-striking fascination that comes with learning the sciences – particularly the working of the human anatomy. The intricacies of machinery so complex that the more you notch up the level of magnification, the more you realize how little of what is going on under that microscope you can truly fathom.

Just one extra chromosome in your genetic make-up, and you’ve got Down’s Syndrome. A slight shift in the balance of your hormonal level, and diabetes it is. A reflex arm movement within a fraction of a second to protect yourself from a ball hitting your face. Just the one sperm out of hundreds of millions in that ‘amazing race’ possessing the ability to bring about a new life. The heart constantly pumping out fresh oxygenated blood, while simultaneously the air we breathe is continuously being filtered.

And we don’t even know it.


It really is absurd how many claim that Science is the anathema to Religion, when in fact it quite blatantly serves as the opposite. In laboratories and operating tables the world over, men and women with the knowledge to heal eventually do have to throw in their gloves when a biological system inexplicably shuts down. Sitting behind desks and taking down notes, we are only just learning, you and I, of a system already in place – from the tutoring of the learned only just a little ahead of us in the race, still discovering for themselves.

If not for any other reason, this may be the one that keeps me from regretting the three years I had dedicated to a Bachelors in Science degree – one which I have shelved (for now) from my career path.

Time spent learning (very different mind you, from just ‘studying’) is always time well spent. We’re never too old to latch onto something new, nor are we too young to comprehend the value in every slice of information we accumulate.


Thankfully my ability to see clearly has since been returned to me – literally of course but also figuratively to mean the additional tier of insight I’ve gained from the experience. Here’s hoping I don’t have to wait for yet another organ to fail me, to have to ruminate over and truly appreciate the flawless synchrony with which I (unknowingly) operate.



“Whenever I set myself the task to learn, I realize how little I know and the more I learn, the more I realize how ignorant I am” -Imam Ash Shafi’ee