I am often asked why I make a distinction between my eyesight, and visual perception. Visual perception is a concept, which most people, including many medical professionals, have not understood. It is, however, one which I believe is straightforward, and critical to a full understanding of the single most remarkable impact of cerebral palsy, upon my life, and hence, the least expected gifts of My Serrapeptase Adventure, and my achievement of naturally sustained good health.
Eyesight is often defined as ‘the act, or fact, of seeing’ — the physical function of the structures of the eye, the optic nerve, and the transmission of light between the eye and the brain.
Visual perception provides the means by which light becomes information, and a thrilling, sometimes bewildering, mix of physical, intellectual, emotional and social experiences, simply described as ‘seeing the world’.
It is visual perception, which allows us to understand and use our eyesight in so many ways, and often to do so simultaneously and instinctively:
- Which of all of the millions of things you see today will immediately be important to you?
- How many will teach you, and how many will give you the gift of helping others to learn?
- How many will become precious memories?
- How many will help you understand something in the future, that you cannot imagine now?
- How many will bring pleasure?
- How many may help you avoid pain?
These are just a few of life’s questions and answers which distinguish the physical act of eyesight from the gift of visual perception.
The distinction between eyesight and visual perception became an important part of sharing My Serrapeptase Adventure with the world, because, in 2007: The Year The World Looked Different, I noticed that my poor eyesight and limited visual perception, caused by cerebral palsy, and thought to be without chance of recovery, had improved in two related but distinct ways.
First, at the end of 2006, the physical function of my eyesight showed significant improvement, which was, and still is, measurable by an optometrist. Throughout 2007, it became clear to me that my eyesight had become much more useful, than it had ever been. With time, I also realised that I was finding it easier than ever to understand, and even to enjoy, the gift of sight, rather than being frustrated and limited by it. Improving visual perception meant that I was seeing the world in a new way. Things that used to look confusing had suddenly, and unexpectedly, become awe-inspiringly beautiful.