“How would you like your bionic vision?”: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Eye

One of the most entertaining things about being blind is the running commentary from sighted friends and family about the world around me to which I am frequently subjected. Some individuals, like my best friend, will provide me with a steady stream of descriptive comments as we sit outside Starbucks for our regular lattes and laughter-filled conversations. Nothing escapes his notice, from the tattoo-bedecked thuggish looking rogue to the teenage boy so taken with staring at my guidedog that he trips and falls into the bushes. But describing the world to a blind person as it passes by, often in flashes, is an art form that, like sculpting or playing a musical instrument, requires practice, dedication, and a considerable degree of imagination and raw talent. Describing a woman’s funny feathered hat as “a dead bird perched atop her head,” for instance, is suitably descriptive to send me into fits of giggles that have fellow mall-goers stopping to stare (I presume, since my friends have the delicacy not to draw my attention to anyone who sees it fit to stare unabashedly at a blind person who actually ventures out in public).

Then there’s the opposite extreme: “I wish you could see that!” (Not helpful in the slightest.). Think Jeff Dunham here: “The elephant disappeared…it just, fucking disappeared.” If you’re unfamiliar with this particular routine, I suggest you remedy that.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum are the equally frustrating “Be glad you can’t see this” comments, which both awaken my curiosity and threaten to drive me insane.

As frustrated as I sometimes am about seeing the world through the gazes of others—however willing they are to lend me their eyes—I sometimes wonder, in my characteristically comical way, what it would be like to have my own eye-to-brain filter, aside from the obvious “I’d rather not know, thanks,” in response to someone’s offer to implant a mental image in my head that would require bleach to remove.

According to an article published earlier this week, we are now on the verge of a visionary invention: introducing the bionic eye: a retinal implant created by the company Second Sight that utilizes an external camera attached to a pair of sunglasses to transmit an image to a visual processor. The processor then forwards this image to a pair of antennae implanted around the eye. Alternatively, the German company Retina Implant Ag has taken a different approach, implanting the camera directly into the eye.

Here’s my question then: does this handy little camera come with a built-in delete feature for those visual TMI moments? Disturbed by a pair of teenagers displaying serious PDA on the bus? No problem-delete. Creeped out by that gory horror film you shouldn’t have seen? Image erased! Imagine if we had the technological tools to see only what we want to see; this is giving utopian vision a whole new meaning, but it sounds like a twisted, tripped out movie in the making: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless eye! Now in Theaters…if you really want to see it. The notion is a tempting one, but somehow I think I’m safer with my own personal eye-to-brain filter. It seems far less dangerous to say “Thanks, I don’t need the mental image” than to risk the possibility of having all of my visual memory erased. (Unless of course this bionic eye comes with an external hard drive to back up visual memory in case of malfunction).

If you had the choice to selectively delete visual memories, would you?


  1. no

  2. Overload. Overload. But if you hit “delete”, would you eliminate potential things to write about?

    • poetprodigy7 said

      Possibly. Hense why it might not be such a good idea 🙂

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