Blindness Cured - Part III

Discussion in 'Optometry Archives' started by Zetsu, Mar 22, 2008.

  1. Zetsu

    Zetsu Guest

    Stories from the Clinic

    No.48: Anna Bernard, the Blind Girl - Part III

    By Emily C. Lierman

    It is very easy to get into a habit, at least I find it so. I had been
    in the habit of calling Anna Bernard, My Blind Girl, or, My Blind
    Patient, but I had to get out of the habit because Anna can now see.
    Her vision is not normal by any means. No one could expect that. Not
    if they had seen Anna at the beginning of her treatment. People who
    have had fairly good sight and then acquired cataract and other
    diseases of their eyes have a fair chance or a better chance to regain
    normal vision. I have seen many such cases entirely cured after they
    had intelligently carried out our treatment. But, Anna, who was born
    blind, with cataract and also acquired other diseases, was the
    greatest problem I ever had. I want to say this for Anna: If she would
    not have had the faith in me or in my ability to benefit her, I could
    not have helped her. She did as she was told and that was a great
    deal. For instance, Anna was caning chairs for a living. She could
    earn at least six dollars per week. But, when I told her that she
    stared and strained her eyes while caning chairs and that I feared she
    would be wasting her time and mine, if she continued to do this work
    while under treatment, she gave it up. It was not easy for her to make
    this sacrifice, because she was giving up her independence. Her great
    desire was not to be a burden on her family. She wanted to help
    instead of being helpless.

    Her wonderful mind helped her however to realize that if she could see
    with eyes that had always been sightless, she would be able later on
    to earn much more than she could at caning chairs by the sense of

    During the months of October and November, 1922, Anna made steady
    progress. She could read the test card up to the forty line at a foot
    or so from her eyes but the smaller letters she read holding the card
    quite close to her face. She came every Saturday morning accompanied
    by her sister Ella as usual. She had something to tell me. Now she was
    going to the movies and sitting about fifteen or twenty feet away, she
    could at times see the heads and faces of people on the screen. She
    had to keep up the body swing and also to blink constantly, otherwise
    everything before her became a blank. If she did not keep up the
    practice all the time, the staring and straining to see always lowered
    her vision.

    One day I had three visitors in our office whom I had invited
    especially to see the progress Anna was making. One of my visitors was
    a lady who happened to be in our waiting room the day Anna appealed to
    me first for help. This lady was a school teacher, a delightful person
    with a great deal of love for others. I placed her at a desk in one
    corner of the office, the desk separating her from the patient. To her
    left I placed a young man, a relative of hers who was also troubled
    with imperfect sight. To her right sat another young man who was at
    the time under treatment by Dr. Bates. All objects seen by Anna on the
    street and elsewhere were seen under favorable conditions, either in
    the bright sunlight or under strong electric light. While at the movie
    theatre, all lights being out, she was able to relax enough to see
    objects thrown on the screen. Now, I was anxious to find out how much
    she could see as she entered the office, where I had purposely
    lessened the amount of light. As she stood in the doorway I asked her
    if she saw anything unfamiliar in the room. Our visitors were
    perfectly still and intensely interested. Anna began to blink and
    swing her body from side to side, which was always a benefit to her.
    She looked about the room and then back again to the right where the
    visitors were sitting. She smiled and immediately walked unassisted to
    the desk, and as she kept up the blinking, she leaned over the desk,
    and said the center figure was a lady with a light colored waist on.
    There were two gentlemen also; one on either side of her. After
    praising her, I placed her in a chair to palm and rest her eyes for a
    little while. This was always necessary because in her eagerness to
    read or tell what she saw, she strained unconsciously and her vision

    Ten minutes later I asked her to follow me about the room and tell me
    what she saw. A Brazilian butterfly, in an oval frame hanging on the
    wall, attracted her and at three feet she was able to see the color of
    it. As she had never seen a butterfly she tried to tell me what it
    might be. She remembered that at one time a butterfly was described to
    her, so she said it might be one although she was not sure. The memory
    of the form of an object explained to her, helped her to really see
    it. She was placed before a mirror and immediately she saw what it

    I never thought when I first saw Anna, that we could accomplish so
    much. In her home she helps with the housework and picks up things and
    places them where they belong. She sees the steam from the boiling tea
    kettle and reads the large headlines and the next size type in the
    newspapers. When,she first learned to write with crayon for me, she
    wrote something in a note book which I hope to have photographed for
    my book, so that those who are interested may see what she learned to
    do. Perhaps not all blind patients could have accomplished what Anna
    did. Such an extraordinary mind as she has, is very rare. Her
    cheerfulness, her hope of seeing helped me to help her too. Her smile
    was with her all the time and her gratitude to me and her faithful
    sister was great.

    She does not come for treatment just now but her letter of February
    11, 1924 reads:

    "My dear Mrs. Lierman,

    It pleased me greatly to receive your letter and I appreciate your
    interest in me very much. I am not caning chairs any more but am
    taking a commercial course. With kindest regards, I remain

    Zetsu, Mar 22, 2008
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  2. Zetsu

    Jason Sperry Guest

    If people are blind they cannot understand blindness.
    Jason Sperry, Mar 22, 2008
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