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Still Walking

Working for ten years in the local refineries, I was required to wear safety glasses. When presbyopia set in, I had progressives, when I worked ER and neeeded to wear them sometimes 36 hours in a row, I invested in wire drill mounted lenses so light I frequently forgot they were on my face.

In my mid fifties, I had what opthalmoligists call posterior vitrious separation—supposedly painless and associated with age. It meant I saw doznes of gnats flying over everything I looked at—all tiny blood clots from the event. That cleared eventually but then I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

One of the medications I was on was Plaquenil–a medication sometimes used for malaria. It is associated with deposits around the macula creating a crazy kaleidoscope of colors and a fuzzy ring around visual field. It was hard to read—as part of the letters would disappear—was that a b or a h or an n? Was that an a or e or o? I had to guess by the other letters in the word and the context.

Then cataracts!

And for a few months I could see fairly well but needed ‘cheaters’ for reading.

And a light.

Next came the large print books and a book that would have taken me two or three nights now took three or four weeks to read.

White print on black was impossible to read. Restaurant menus, magazines, websites seem more interested in attention grabbing than in legibility. The world now seems to depend on ‘apps’ also frequenlty white print on black and on a tiny screen.

I scheduled an eye appointment; endured the dilation and glaucoma checks, and soon learned I was legally blind in my left eye. I was informed it was macular degeneartion and that within a year or so, my right eye would be similarly affected.

What a devastating blow!

As an artist!

As a writer!

As a voracious reader of technical books, history, novels, mysteries!

As someone who enjoys independence and travel!

As someone who pays their own bills!

Facing a world dependent upon others to pay my bills, take me shopping or visiting, no more books.

And what about all the fun things I wanted to do, places I wanted to go, new adventures?

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jeannie Loving #

    That’s a horrible prognosis. There is such a thing as books on tape, althought I think they are on MP3’s now, which are very enjoyable. Not sure all the books you want to read will be there, but there will be some. When my mom had macular degeneration, she viewed things from the side of her eye, and managed pretty well. I don’t think it would work for reading. Would probably help for quilting and painting. I’ll let you know, because I have the genetics for macular degeneration, and will probably have to deal with it sooner or later. Every day they have more adaptive programs and software, and I’m sure you will soon know more about them than I.

    April 6, 2023
  2. Wow – what a lot to take in over the years only to end up here. My eye guy assures me that there is medication should I start to deal with macular degeneration, unlike when my dad was diagnosed with it and couldn’t tell me who might be in a old family photo because he’d lost center vision. My eye guy also indicated it’s pretty natural for people to start down that path as they age. I left that appt so depressed, even though all he said was that we had to keep track and that I was to see him if I noticed any changes. That was several years ago, before cataract surgery and so far so good. How could you suddenly find yourself legally blind in one eye? I so feel for you as I have always worried about losing my sight because of all the things I love to do that require it. Gosh – I hardly know what to say.

    April 8, 2023

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