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Chuck Hinman: Living With Macular Degeneration

Chuck Hinman: IJMA: 193: Living With Macular Degeneration (MD)
A warning to older people of a dreaded eye disorder which should be treated as early as possible. The next earlier Chuck Hinman Story: - IJMA 030: Tuesday -- Ironing Day

By Chuck Hinman

Living With Macular Degeneration (MD)

I have macular degeneration which is a fancy name for a disease of the eyes that only old people get. I was in my eighties, living here at Tallgrass Estates in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, when I had my first brush with MD. Little did I realize how devastatingly this painless disease was going to upset my golden years. I would never have dreamed a day was soon coming when I couldn't read the paper or enjoy watching TV because my vision was impaired.

This is how MD entered and disrupted my life.

I was in my early eighties living the "good life" when one day while in my bathroom I noticed some "scriggles" or wavy lines on the metal trim on my shower door. I rubbed my eyes to make it go away but nothing changed. "Darned city water," I mumbled to myself, and went about my life. I was enjoying such a good quality of life that I put off getting much needed medical attention (it turned out). I opted to mention it to my eye doctor at my next check-up in a couple months.

He quickly diagnosed that I had dreaded macular degeneration of the fast developing variety.

I soon learned this disease is characterized by the weakening of the blood vessels (due to age) on the back side of the retina. They begin to seep miniscule amounts of blood which interfere with vision. Even with the success of laser treatment to stop the bleeding in one blood vessel there is no guarantee against the bleeding starting in another.

It is a seeming "no win" situation continuing until the vital central vision or parts thereof are destroyed in both eyes.

I have had three very expensive laser treatments that were effective in getting bleeding stopped. I haven't had any bleeding in the last year.

The central vision in my right eye is gone. I have a very tiny area in my left eye which allows me to see the big E (and nothing below) on eye charts. With my right eye I can see nothing on the chart (what chart?).

If you do not have vision problems you may wonder what life is like.

MD doesn't leave you "black-out blind" as some people are. In its worst case it can and does leave you "gray-out blind" if you can fathom what that would be like.

MD never affects peripheral vision and I have learned what a blessing that is. And speaking of blessings, I have a tastefully decorated apartment where I spend most of my time. Outside of reading and watching TV, my vision problem is mostly a non-issue. I have lived in my apartment when I didn't have a vision problem so that I know and remember how beautiful and colorful it is with all the stained glass, the wall hangings, the window treatments which I added recently, all are very familiar so that it only takes a glimpse out of the "corners of my eyes" to be reminded and comforted that even with awful MD, nothing (really) has changed.

Sure, you may have to tell me who you are because with AMD "you all look alike."

A final blessing I will share was my recent "errand outing" on Wednesday on the Tallgrass bus. I had forgotten how beautiful our city is in the spring with all the Bradford pear trees blooming, the colorful "Welcome to Bartlesville garden" at the busy intersection of Frank Phillips and Washington Boulevard. As one beautiful scene after another erupted for my pent up visual pleasure I felt like applauding and cheering in my heart.

I agree that "beauty" is truly in the eyes of the beholder and does not require 20/20 vision. Thank you Lord for your creation and your giving me the ability to enjoy it in a unique way with my "customized" vision. My eyes should proudly boast a sign -- "Made in Heaven by God."

Written by Chuck Hinman. Saturday, 3 April 2010.

This story was posted on 2012-11-25 05:17:00
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