I am very nearsighted. Without glasses, I cannot drive safely, cannot read a blackboard even from the front row, and struggle with recognizing faces across a gym. In a world without glasses, I would be severely handicapped in all of these ordinary activities. I would probably have struggled to learn to read and write, which would impact my ability to access an education. This would manifest as a learning disability, perhaps even an intellectual delay.
What options would I have? I could find occupations which do not require good vision, I could live in an area well-served by public transportation, and I would probably lean heavily on family, friends and strangers to assist me in day-to-day activities. Many would think that I am a burden on society, since I require so much help, and yet can only perform low-level tasks. My family would probably advocate for me to be included, to be provided accommodations which would enable me to participate more fully, and for me to be appreciated for my strengths, not judged on the basis of my eyesight. And in a world without glasses, they would be right to do so!
Instead, what choices do I have in today's actual world? With glasses, I can participate in nearly all activities. With contact lenses, there is a vanishingly small number of activities where I would be limited. If I truly need full vision, I can shell out the big bucks for Lazik treatment. Or, I can choose to take my glasses off and use my extra-short focal length to look at things closely. It is all about having choices.
In the real world of disability we see a similar tension between seeking treatment and acceptance. Between trying to compensate for the disability and become "typical" and trying to change society to be more accepting of differences. There is a lot of fear that investing in research into treatment would undermine the struggle for acceptance. I think this is misguided. Research into treatment is all about giving people with disabilities the choices to control their own destiny. As a nearsighted person, I can decide what strategy makes the most sense for me. Many mildly nearsighted people choose to forgo glasses -- that is a legitimate choice! Even with my low level of vision, I usually prefer the comfort of going without glasses when I am swimming. I have other friends who invest in corrective goggles. Some deaf people are delighted to use cochlear implants, others prefer building up deaf culture to trying to fit in with hearing culture, and still others use hearing aids, which can be turned on or off depending on situation. It is all about choice!
With any disability for which there is no universally accepted treatment, a civil society will seek to make accommodations for affected individuals. A civil society will also research technologies which will give disabled individuals more options. It is not either/or, but and/also.