The Eyes Have It

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The Eyes Have It

‘Necessity is the mother of invention’. A well-worn phrase, teetering on the brink of cliché. At its heart lies a simple message summed up by its close cousin ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’. We humans like routine and order. We work hard to create a daily life that’s just so. A tool for every job. That sort of thing.

But what happens when the job has no tool? Or it had a tool but it’s no longer the right one? What happens when something doesn’t work properly anymore?

The great inventions solve problems. Terrible inventions create pointless gadgets. I’m not an inventor. But one day my life changed. And with it, so did I. I had to. Out of necessity.

I once had a senior position at Lloyd’s Bank, including looking after their bid function (as I had for other companies in the past). I commuted six hours a day. That’s right. Six. I would read (and write) constantly. I played with my kids. I cooked. I ran around the block for exercise. I wasn’t still for a moment.

Three years ago, I suffered a massive stroke. I stopped breathing. I’m only here today because I was quickly put on a life support machine. Intubated and hooked up to countless wires. My family were told to expect the worst. I didn’t come around for a week. When I did, I was a different me altogether.

I couldn’t see. I was weak. I was scared. I had terrifying vertigo. I slept a lot. I had lost 40% of the vision in both eyes (brain dead in my occipital lobe, if you’ll pardon the jargon). Now, maybe seeing less well than before could have taken a more straightforward adaptation. But the pupil in one eye was dilated, in the other completely contracted. We rely on our brains to fuse the separate messages from each eye into one single image. But I had to deal with two separate images, one of which was tilted. Reading was fundamental to my life and to any hope of working again. And reading was beyond tricky with two sets of print on the page, one of which moved around. I had to find a way.

We began with a patch covering one lens of a pair of spectacles. I don’t actually need regular spectacles. I could get blanks from the hospital (a narrow choice of stock, generally metal, unsuited to my petite head) or cheap readers from the pound shop, which are lensed. I was given a patch to go over them. Sadly, these patches were intended for children and came adorned with a beautiful star. I didn’t fancy being seen in those once I began taking tentative steps outdoors. My ophthalmologist gave me occlusion tape. This makes the lens opaque but light is still allowed in, confusing the brain.

The inevitable pirate route of the black eye patch followed. The opticians sold me an extraordinarily uncomfortable black plastic monstrosity. I sourced a smaller one online which was no more to my liking – claustrophobic, hot and too close to my eye. I could feel my eyelashes rubbing against the material.

So, I then settled on a pair of reading glasses from Poundland from which I removed the lens for the left eye and stuck black electrical tape over the right. No more occluding for me! I was pretty pleased when my ophthalmologist confirmed I’d come up with a good scheme and I muddled through for about a year until the frame cracked. Next time, I upgraded myself to using black barbeque paint instead of tape. Much better looking. But soon I felt the need to climb out of the bargain basement. It was time for a decent pair. I eventually settled on some lovely frames.

“I want a black lens on the right side,” I said.
“You mean opaque?”
“No. I mean black.”
“Well, no-one wants that so we can’t do it…”
Can’t be done.

It was true. I searched everywhere online. No-one does black lens glass. The fourth optician I visited finally agreed to opaque a lens down to black for me without resorting to paint. So now I have someone who’ll source me blacked-out lenses.

It can be done, you see.

With immense thanks to Mark Davies for the title and without whom this article would have run to 100 pages.

This article was written by Kat Wyon.

Kat is the Research Director for Strategic Proposals. She is an APMP fellow, one of only a small number across the globe and also holds APMP Professional status. Kat is highly respected thought leader in the proposal profession and has a fantastic track record of winning business.

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