Recognizing Visual Impairments in Others

I try to plan my outings to Walmart way in advance, knowing that only preparation and a well-crafted shopping list make these trips any less agonizing. My list was short that day. I only needed some potting soil and a new pot for transplanting a quickly growing plant. Not too complicated, I thought at the time, just a quick in and out.

Going shopping

Still feeling cautious, I donned my mask and joined the other shoppers on that cool Monday morning. The store was busy but I managed to zig and zag around the other customers as I headed over to the Garden Center in our Walmart. My search was a little challenging, the growing season had wrapped up, and finding the soil was a bit of an endeavor.

Another customer

As I maneuvered to the Garden Center, I saw a little old lady stopped right smack dab in the middle of the aisle.

As I was on my mission, I swerved around her stalled cart, and then that is when I noticed something about this lady. Her cart was empty and in her hand she was clutching a rather large magnifying glass. The glass was a mere inch from her face and on her face, oversized coke bottle glasses. I passed closely behind her and then I was struck by her list.

On her paper, her list was written in two to three-inch letters, scrawled across several lines of her notepad. I could see her squinting intently, trying hard to read what was written.

Back to shopping

I managed to swoop through the Garden Center, found my potting soil and pot, all the while thinking of that lady, wondering if she needed help. I quickly circled back around, casting my eyes around looking for her as I came back into the main body of the store.

Unfortunately, I did not find her. I can only hope that she was successful and found what she was so intent on purchasing that day.

Looking into the future

This experience gave me pause as I drove away. She clearly had vision challenges. Will this be my future? Will I be shopping with a large magnifying glass, peering ever so closely at what I had written down in oversized letters that day? Will I flounder about, trying to navigate the aisle with difficulty and no one stepping in to help?

My wish

I do wish I had reacted more quickly. I should have recognized her struggles sooner knowing what I do about these eyes that are affected by macular degeneration. I should have stopped when I was right near her. I wish I had offered to help her read her list. I wish that she was not alone, that her experience at the store would have been a more pleasant experience. I wish she would not have had to struggle to navigate her list and navigate her way around the store.

Going forward I will definitely be more aware and forthcoming with help. It's the least I can do.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.