Max Perr: Learning to Be Blind

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

This article is more than 3 years old.

Max Perr is going blind. He’s learning how to reconstruct the world and to see it entirely differently.

I see no more rainbows. Blue skies are gone.

Trees and grass are muddy grey. Since blindness struck, my one eye focuses on constant black stillness. My remaining eye views a murky, faded black-and-white film.

With my distorted window, I maneuver well around my house. I navigate with a mental map of everything. I avoid each fuzzy piece of furniture. I count each tenuous step.

I am learning to be blind.


When I leave the comfort of home to the uncertainties of the outside, I take a few breaths. Yet I am learning to use my white cane. Every scrap of information is useful — the roughness of the sidewalk, the wind on the corner.

I see the world differently and it sees me differently. More people say hello. Are they friendly or are they alerting me to avoid them? Doors open. People truly are helpful.

I am learning gratitude.

Yet I am not fluent in blindness. I'm working to translate other senses into images that will never be. I am replacing facial recognition with voice ID.

I treasure images that will not be updated. I need to recall the brush strokes of Van Gogh, the love on my wife's face. I question — have I enough images? How many times did I not savor a sunset’s infinite colors? While I can still smell the flowers, will I miss their visual cheer?

Despite my acts of omission, I feel fortunate. I had 65 years to build a picture gallery.

I realize learning to be blind is learning to see in new ways.

With a Perspective, I am Max Perr.

Max Perr is a retired business executive living in San Francisco with the help of his wife and white cane.