Shauna Summers

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Counseling & Psychological Services

I have visual impairments, the remnants of congenital cataracts for which I had surgery as an infant. I’m told I was the first infant in the state of Indiana to have cataract surgery. I was three months old when the cataract was removed from my right eye and five months old when it was removed from my left. I can’t imagine how my parents must have felt handing me over to have a surgeon cut my eye open.

During the two months between surgeries, my right eye grew stronger while my left eye just floated around in the milky environment created by cataracts. My left eye has never quite caught up to my right. I don’t have depth perception so I see things in sizes rather than distances.  3-D movies are the closest I can come to experiencing depth perception. Also, I barely have any peripheral vision. Because of this I prefer to walk slightly behind people when we are walking together. I’ve been left behind so many times because the person I’m walking with turns or stops, and I have no idea until I sense that they are no longer with me.

I’ve adapted well, mostly due to the tremendous privileges I’ve had throughout my life: health insurance to cover surgeries, medical care, glasses, contacts, and magnifiers. My parents and grandparents did everything they could to provide me with excellent health care and support in school. Growing up they also provided me the opportunity to attend programs through the local League for the Blind.

People with 20/20 vision don’t need to be taught how to see, but that isn’t true for me. This has several side effects. I never quite learned to observe slight social cues the same way fully sighted people do. I sometimes miss when a friend starts to tear up ever so slightly. But I’ve learned that I just need to tell people about my vision, what I can see and what I miss. I also need to ask a lot of questions. The people in my life have always responded with care and love. Always. I appreciate artists and designers for so many reasons, and one is because you have also been taught how to see, maybe not in quite the same way that I had to learn, but in a way that makes me feel like I belong in this community.