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  • Writer's pictureNick International

See what I'm saying?

Updated: Jan 6, 2021

This eye exam took almost five and a half hours. There were lots of different tests, and procedures. I had yellow dye injected into my veins so that a photo could be taken of the inside of my left eye showing all the different blood vessels. I had to wear a hard contact lens with wires attached to it, in order to track my peripheral vision.

It took about 2 hours for my pupils to finally dilate after eye drop, on top of eye drop, on top of more eye drops. I couldn’t open my eyes in bright sunlight for basically the rest of the day and well into the following morning.

Bascolm Palmer Eye Institute is where I found out at the age of 14 that I had Stargardt’s Disease. I’m just going to call it SD for short.

I enjoy traveling and seeing new things, not just because it is a fun thing to do but because there very well is going to come a point where I may not be able to see things too clearly, or perhaps be colour blind.

It is the actual reason you will almost always see me wearing sunglasses, and it makes the jackass who doesn’t dim the high beams on the car at night my forever nemesis.

Don’t mistake this for a pity party, that is not what is happening here. Keep reading.

What is happening is I’m making a point that is a hill on which I am prepared to battle: Going out and seeing the world is so important. It isn’t something to be taken for granted. Even seeing your own country. I mean can you imagine what junkanoo would look like to someone that is colorblind? Exactly.

So, what the fuck is SD? A little biology here. There is a part of your eye called the retina, and a part of your retina called the macula. The macula is the area that is primarily responsible for sharp focused central vision. It causes what can be described as or manifests kind of like astigmatism.

SD is macular degenerative, meaning it is slowly breaking down my macula area. Without all the biological terminology what I am saying is that it is harder for me to see in extremely bright light and my vision isn’t so sharp anymore. I do wear contacts, if you’ve never noticed but thankfully I don’t need to wear them all the time.

That being said, it is one of the things that weighs heavy on my mind when I decide on a destination. It is one of the main reasons I love Cape Town. Outside of my friends, the great restaurants and amazing wineries - it’s the scenery. I love, and appreciate the chance to look at anything beautiful. I’m sick of the swimming pigs but the blue hues of the Exumas never get old to me.

If I’m in love with you, I’ll look at you intently, painting a picture in my mind. Truth is, the idea of being colorblind or potentially not being able to see at all is a little frightening.

We all have different things that motivate us. Some of us are adrenaline junkies, some of us seek calm in a foreign destination, some people travel looking to embrace their kinks, and so on. My main motivation is I literally want to see it all, or as much of it as possible.

So what’s it like on a day to day? Listen, it makes going from a dark room into bright light annoying as all hell. Sometimes, on the days when the UV index is really high and there are no clouds out, leaving the house without sunglasses is a process of light adjustment that gets on my nerves.

Let me break it down: Imagine you get up to pee in the middle of the night, stumble out of bed in the dark but you know where the bathroom is so you don’t turn on the light. Walk into the bathroom, flick the light switch and you eyes would moan, if they could because it is an annoying feeling. In a few seconds, you can see the bowl and go for goal.

It is easier for me to do all that shit in the dark. I can see a little better. I have only missed the toilet thrice.

I used to date someone who thought I was a weirdo because I used to constantly be in my house in the dark, but moved around very deliberately and smoothly. I did bite her, but I am no vampire. It is just easier for me to see. In fact, the best damn thing to happen to technology is night mode.

Back to the point of the story. I want you to think of the 5 most beautiful things, or people you have ever seen. Think about the smile on your child’s face when they unwrapped their presents at Christmas time. If you are a woman that’s close with your Father, think about the way he smiled at you when he was proudest of you. For those men in love, think back to the first sunset you ever watched with her and remember her face, and the sun and the glow of them both.

Imagine going to Norway to see the Aurora Borealis in all it’s luminescent splendour. What about the view of Table Mountain with the Cape Town blue sky background and the tablecloth cascading down the mountain’s face.

Remember what it is like to look down from your window seat coming home to The Bahamas and seeing the dark blue ocean slowly lighten up, like a shy guest that’s now comfortable enough to show off in front of company - and turning turquoise, then the beach shining like a colgate smile as you descend into LPIA.

The view from Victoria Peak across the Bay at night with all of the laser lights dancing on the Hong Kong cityscape. It is amazing to observe nature, to see actual lions and elephants, to watch a whale breach and come up for air; an osprey once perched on a dock post not far from me and I got to see one up close for the first time last November. Imagine being able to see the way someone who loves you looks at you. Seeing the sunrise with it’s peach hues.

Now, imagine having to see all of that in black and white. Absent of colour, absent of character. That’s some shit to think about. Macular degenerative conditions are genetic so unbeknownst to them, my parents had the right gene-cocktail and Voila! I got the bill. (I’m not hating on my parents at all, love them - just stating a fact lol)

You may have your eyesight for next however many years in living colour, but you’ll excuse me if I take every flight I can because I got a lot of things to see before the world starts to look like 50’s television or Elon Musk figures out how to fix SD.

Go and see some cool shit.

If you're curious to know more about SD, I found this source to be thorough, and their explanation simple to follow:

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