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    Photography: Jose Ferreira www.joseferreira-photographer.com Text by: Regina de Azevedo Pinto Anophthalmia is a rare condition, characterized by… Read More
    Photography: Jose Ferreira www.joseferreira-photographer.com Text by: Regina de Azevedo Pinto Anophthalmia is a rare condition, characterized by the underdevelopment of orbits, ocular hypoplasia, along with flat conjunctival sacs and general lid deficiencies. Genetic and epidemiological studies have shown an incidence of 21 cases every 100.000 births. Systemic abnormalities are present in 80% of the cases: malformations in the auditory system (47%), central nervous system (42,5%), musculoskeletal (42,2%) and genital (30,6%). The disease may manifest itself in children without one eye (anophthalmia) or with very small eyes (microphthalmia). Both may be caused by genetic or environmental factors. Regarding the environmental causes, the strongest seems to be pregnancy infections, but may also include vitamin A deficiencies in the mother, exposure to X-rays, the careless use of some solvents or Thalidomide. In consequence, this syndrome results in multiple endocrine disturbances such as diabetes, small stature in children, deficiencies in the segregation of growth hormones and hypogonadism. To love in Braille Let us close our eyes for a second and let the rest of our senses guide us. Fear is upon us, the echo of the unknown, our body curls up in dread of what one cannot see and cannot foresee. An entire prologue of blind feelings arrive without warning. Let us take a break from light. The absence of color, of shape. We wonder... how would it be to live in a world deprived of these brushes? What would dreams be like? Are they more touch, more feelings, more smell? How does one dream? How does one picture a colorful canvas? A Monet? Van Gogh’s sunflowers? And faces? Does one read the lines of each face with surgical detail until a sketch is born? What about nature? How does one gaze into the infinitude of the sea? The line of the horizon? How does one picture the figures on the clouds? Is it possible to love what one cannot see? In the words of Pitigrilli, in one of his stories at Café de la Paix, «Spring is here and I cannot see it!»… feelings that live in pitch black. Certainly the visual horizon isn’t a distraction, one can focus and appreciate other details, or didn’t Saint-Exupéry say that the essential is invisible to the eyes? The essential is the invisible. An osmosis of his words. One can only feel invisible feelings. One should feel a lot more. All emotions should rejoice on that deprivation, placing a tremendous fervor in feeling, in feelings! Fátima Espadinha was born in 1959. She is from Ponte de Sôr, is fifty seven years-old and came to Lisbon 40 years ago. Fátima suffers from anophthalmia. Anophthalmia is a rare condition, characterized by the underdevelopment of orbits, ocular hypoplasia, along with flat conjunctival sac and general lid deficiencies. Genetic and epidemiological studies have shown an incidence of 21 cases every 100.000 births. Anophthalmia is the medical term for the closing of the windows of the soul. - Do you have pork liver? I’d like a plate of that! But only with one potato and not too much gravy! Only one potato, ok? – she promptly states, so that her will is not forgotten. Everything took place uneventfully, with graceful movements, in a restaurant at Correeiros street. There was already a natural coordination, invisible even to the well trained eye. The silverware’s place, the cup’s, the table’s… all the edges that confined her were already studied in Braille. Whoever walks on Augusta street is no stranger to her melody at number 202. She switched the usual “be so kind to help me” words for her music, which one cannot see, but hears throughout the street. Fátima likes to read – The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco, was the first book she mentioned, followed by La Villa du Silence, by Paul Bodier. “I enjoy the esoteric” she confessed. With a sharp ear, she loves Amália, Ana Moura, Pavarotti and Placido Domigo. She lives with three dogs and five cats. In her pajamas, she’s a socialist and a fan of Benfica, a love she’s nurtured since December 6th, 1982. Followed by Fátima, her friend and loyal companion, every day she follows the same road from Cacém to downtown Lisbon. It’s her job. Mother to a daughter with the same condition, she only asked God that, if the baby had some problem, that it would be the same as hers, because she’d know how to handle it. She owes her motherhood to her own mother, who always helped her, and now has a large family. - A coffee in a cold cup please! – her voice is heard in the restaurant, while I watch her, indiscreetly. All her movements were placid. - People end up strengthening their other senses, right? – I ask, curious and overwhelmed by her simple words. - It depends on whether or not they’re stupid – she throws back at me with a devious smile on her lips. No one can ignore her peculiar sense of humor. She is placing her 2 euros coins in her box, for safekeep, calling them “duckings”. And indeed, if we notice the number 2, it resembles the slim outline of a duck, a picture which we hadn’t noticed with our eyes, but that, to her fingers, was an obvious and very old finding. I am amazed to verify that we live in the same space, but share such different realities, which only touch if we’re sensitive enough to apprehend them. It is all a matter of how permeable our feelings are. If we were all blind, what would truly matter? The brand of our clothes? A fancy house? An expensive car? Ostentation? None of that would matter... we would feed off of feelings. People fall in love with the way they’re treated, with the emotions that furnish one’s soul. The main impression is not on the retina, nor is the material of the shapes it generates. It is its core. Fátima can teach us how to light up a dark room and discover a world one could only see though X-ray. It’s all there… we only need to listen, feel and see, with our hearts. She has that gift, even though there’s an entire world veiled to her eyes, her perceptions aren’t forged by the insignificant, she doesn’t lie on the superfluous, her sight is very clear and heartfelt, she gravitates to a place where one can overcome the veil. There is no mist to confuse her. It’s a place where truth is solid. My perception has been blurred. I will no longer use my eyes to look at someone who cannot see me. I will close them and feel, more tactfully. I will plunge into that world of truth, written in Braille, and blindly venture into the intuition of emotions! Read Less
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Photography: Jose Ferreira
Text: Regina azevedo Pinto

Anophthalmia is a rare condition, characterized by the underdevelopment of orbits, ocular hypoplasia, along with flat conjunctival sacs and general lid deficiencies. Genetic and epidemiological studies have shown an incidence of 21 cases every 100.000 births. Systemic abnormalities are present in 80% of the cases: malformations in the auditory system (47%), central nervous system (42,5%), musculoskeletal (42,2%) and genital (30,6%).
The disease may manifest itself in children without one eye (anophthalmia) or with very small eyes (microphthalmia). Both may be caused by genetic or environmental factors. Regarding the environmental causes, the strongest seems to be pregnancy infections, but may also include vitamin A deficiencies in the mother, exposure to X-rays, the careless use of some solvents or Thalidomide. In consequence, this syndrome results in multiple endocrine disturbances such as diabetes, small stature in children, deficiencies in the segregation of growth hormones and hypogonadism.

To love in Braille
Let us close our eyes for a second and let the rest of our senses guide us. Fear is upon us, the echo of the unknown, our body curls up in dread of what one cannot see and cannot foresee. An entire prologue of blind feelings arrive without warning. Let us take a break from light. The absence of color, of shape. We wonder... how would it be to live in a world deprived of these brushes? What would dreams be like? Are they more touch, more feelings, more smell? How does one dream? How does one picture a colorful canvas? A Monet? Van Gogh’s sunflowers? And faces? Does one read the lines of each face with surgical detail until a sketch is born? What about nature? How does one gaze into the infinitude of the sea? The line of the horizon? How does one picture the figures on the clouds? Is it possible to love what one cannot see? In the words of Pitigrilli, in one of his stories at Café de la Paix, «Spring is here and I cannot see it!»… feelings that live in pitch black.
Certainly the visual horizon isn’t a distraction, one can focus and appreciate other details, or didn’t Saint-Exupéry say that the essential is invisible to the eyes? The essential is the invisible. An osmosis of his words. One can only feel invisible feelings. One should feel a lot more. All emotions should rejoice on that deprivation, placing a tremendous fervor in feeling, in feelings!
Fátima Espadinha was born in 1959. She is from Ponte de Sôr, is fifty seven years-old and came to Lisbon 40 years ago. Fátima suffers from anophthalmia. Anophthalmia is a rare condition, characterized by the underdevelopment of orbits, ocular hypoplasia, along with flat conjunctival sac and general lid deficiencies. Genetic and epidemiological studies have shown an incidence of 21 cases every 100.000 births. Anophthalmia is the medical term for the closing of the windows of the soul.
- Do you have pork liver? I’d like a plate of that! But only with one potato and not too much gravy! Only one potato, ok? – she promptly states, so that her will is not forgotten.
Everything took place uneventfully, with graceful movements, in a restaurant at Correeiros street. There was already a natural coordination, invisible even to the well trained eye. The silverware’s place, the cup’s, the table’s… all the edges that confined her were already studied in Braille.
Whoever walks on Augusta street is no stranger to her melody at number 202. She switched the usual “be so kind to help me” words for her music, which one cannot see, but hears throughout the street. Fátima likes to read – The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco, was the first book she mentioned, followed by La Villa du Silence, by Paul Bodier. “I enjoy the esoteric” she confessed. With a sharp ear, she loves Amália, Ana Moura, Pavarotti and Placido Domigo. She lives with three dogs and five cats. In her pajamas, she’s a socialist and a fan of Benfica, a love she’s nurtured since December 6th, 1982. Followed by Fátima, her friend and loyal companion, every day she follows the same road from Cacém to downtown Lisbon. It’s her job.
Mother to a daughter with the same condition, she only asked God that, if the baby had some problem, that it would be the same as hers, because she’d know how to handle it. She owes her motherhood to her own mother, who always helped her, and now has a large family.
A coffee in a cold cup please! – her voice is heard in the restaurant, while I watch her, indiscreetly. All her movements were placid.
-People end up strengthening their other senses, right? – I ask, curious and overwhelmed by her simple words.It depends on whether or not they’re stupid – she throws back at me with a devious smile on her lips. No one can ignore her peculiar sense of humor. She is placing her 2 euros coins in her box, for safekeep, calling them “duckings”. And indeed, if we notice the number 2, it resembles the slim outline of a duck, a picture which we hadn’t noticed with our eyes, but that, to her fingers, was an obvious and very old finding.
I am amazed to verify that we live in the same space, but share such different realities, which only touch if we’re sensitive enough to apprehend them. It is all a matter of how permeable our feelings are. If we were all blind, what would truly matter? The brand of our clothes? A fancy house? An expensive car? Ostentation? None of that would matter... we would feed off of feelings. People fall in love with the way they’re treated, with the emotions that furnish one’s soul. The main impression is not on the retina, nor is the material of the shapes it generates. It is its core.
Fátima can teach us how to light up a dark room and discover a world one could only see though X-ray. It’s all there… we only need to listen, feel and see, with our hearts. She has that gift, even though there’s an entire world veiled to her eyes, her perceptions aren’t forged by the insignificant, she doesn’t lie on the superfluous, her sight is very clear and heartfelt, she gravitates to a place where one can overcome the veil. There is no mist to confuse her. It’s a place where truth is solid. My perception has been blurred. I will no longer use my eyes to look at someone who cannot see me. I will close them and feel, more tactfully. I will plunge into that world of truth, written in Braille, and blindly venture into the intuition of emotions!