Through blurred lenses | Inquirer Opinion

Through blurred lenses

/ 04:10 AM May 06, 2024

Everything was clear that night—the jeepneys violently honking and cars swiftly passing by as I stood on the roadside. The smell of pollution reeking in the city as smoke clung onto my nose, and the cold December air brushing against the bareness of my skin as I took in what appeared before my eyes.

I couldn’t see the cars, the road signs, and stoplights. A city of colors made up of light orbs in different hues filled in the darkness. Like Christmas lights, the orbs were blinking, fading, and overlapping as if they were alive. I couldn’t make out their outlines; I just knew they were round like dots. What was clear to me was that the magical scene in sight was a result of an anomaly in my eyes. Everything was a blur vivid enough to overwhelm my world without eyeglasses. Most importantly, I would have stayed unmoving, not because I was in awe of what seemed like a beautiful spectacle unfolding, but because I was disabled without wearing my prescription glasses (which I lost earlier that night). As a legally blind person, I would have been helplessly stuck at the crossroads if it weren’t for the aid I received.

I am helpless without my eyeglasses. During the times when I misplaced them, I couldn’t even help myself find what I was missing. I have long accepted that I cannot live without them since eyeglasses have become a permanent part of my body. My functionality has depended on them.

As long as I can remember, my eyesight has always been bad. When I was in prep school, I got used to occupying chairs near the board to have better vision, yet I would still find myself squinting my eyes to see what the teachers wrote. I also got used to walking very slowly, even in broad daylight when the ground seemed so far away, and especially at night when there was little light to illuminate the dark paths. I have been living my life in a blur—not until my head started to ache, my eyes became irritated, and I couldn’t read the words on the board anymore despite sitting on the front row—that I finally had to visit an ophthalmologist to get my first prescription glasses in third grade.


When I visited the clinic, the doctor asked me to place my chin on an apparatus and look into the lens with my eye, and then describe what I could see. There was a house becoming clearer as the doctor operated on the machine, and then my other eye underwent the same process to gauge the range of my eyes. The next step was reading the letters in different sizes. I had to sit on a mechanical chair fitting for the clinic while they gave me a frame to wear. The other eye was covered in black while testing my other eye by replacing the lenses with different grades. They asked me to read the letters starting with the big letter E, and as the lenses became clearer, the letters also became smaller as I read down the chart. Both eyes were tested.

As for my case, my eyes have similar grades so they removed the cover of the other eye and instructed me to walk around while trying the lenses.

At first, I felt dizzy. The floor seemed to be so far away, and the ceilings seemed to be moving. Once my eyes got used to the lens, I was able to appreciate my surroundings. For the first time, I could see things clearly. I didn’t have to squint my eyes to see the posters in the clinic anymore, and I noticed the details I could not see before, like the linings on the tiles and the patterns in the fabric of my shirt. With my new set of eyes (thanks to my glasses), I was able to see another world I didn’t know before.

Acquiring my first eyeglasses was just the beginning. When I got used to wearing them, regular adjustments needed to be made. As I grew up, the lenses of my glasses also became thicker as the grade of my eyes continued to go higher—350, 450, 500, until it reached 750 in the present. I have become so accustomed to my blindness that I only remove my eyeglasses when sleeping. I could not part with them after spending most of my life wearing my glasses, as if they had become a biological part of me, an essential piece of my being.


My eyesight is bad, but it is precisely because it is imperfect that I realized I could still see things clearly. I learned to doubt what appears in my sight rather than believing it outright. I learned to take second glances and more to make sure that I wouldn’t trip or hurt myself. It encouraged me to become aware through my other senses. My eyes might be impaired, but other parts of me are working just fine. My sight is a problem, but my way of seeing is not.

Through blurred lenses, I learned to see things more clearly. Like how everything was clear that night—jeepneys (now being phased out) violently honking, and cars (in increasing numbers) swiftly passing by as I stood on the roadside, the smell of pollution (contributing to climate change) reeking in the city (filled with exploitation) as smoke clung onto my nose, and the cold December air (becoming hotter over the years) brushing against the bareness of my skin—I take in what appears before my being.


Khy Domingo, 20, is a communication arts student from the University of the Philippines Los Baños. She likes to sleep when she is not writing. She likes to read more than she likes to write.

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