Personal Views

The way I don't see it—living with a visual impairment

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 20 July 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:175
  1. J D Wright

    “I am a visually handicapped doctor and wish to visit the medical section, can you help me?” The man at the door of the Science Museum in London guided me to an official and said, “This is a mentally handicapped doctor who wants to visit the medical section.” This experience poignantly illustrates some people's attitude to disability.

    As a result of my predisposing myopia, the retina of my right eye became detached when I was 16 and I was admitted to Moorfields Hospital. Limited surgical techniques were available and I was sentenced to several weeks immobile on my back. I lost the sight of that eye and during my training it was enucleated after concern about sympathetic ophthalmia. While I was a student the retina of the left eye first detached and I well remember a supportive consultant who said, “If you go blind you could always be a physiotherapist.” I insisted that I was training to be a doctor.

    I eventually qualified in 1962. I enjoyed two years in hospital medicine and then moved into community child health. My acuity deteriorated further and I was told to give up driving. I loved driving and the loss of independence, which I still feel, was devastating. So what next if clinical medicine was not possible? I advertised in the …

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