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.

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