Living With Macular Degeneration

by Eric

I was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration in 2007. I was unclear as to exactly what this was, I only knew I couldn’t see. After a great deal of time consuming research I learned that basically the term macular degeneration encompasses two stages of the disease.

The first stage is called the dry macular. In this stage the person may or may not notice minute symptoms such as a brief flutter or a sudden flash of light. These symptoms may occur so briefly and intermittently the typical person shrugs them off.

By the time they’re no longer able to shrug the symptoms off the disease has progressed. Abnormal blood vessels begin to form under the retina. This is the beginning of the wet form.

The blood vessels begin to form at the side of the retina growing toward the center. This may take a very short time in some people and for others it may take longer before the vessels grow under the macular.

This process goes on to form a scar which is disk shaped and usually grey in the middle of the persons’ vision. This scar destroys all retina tissue leaving a person without central vision. It is not reversible.

Living with the final stage of Macular Degeneration has been a unique experience. Initially being around others who are unfamiliar with the disease I often times did not know whether to laugh or cry.

So often people would notice my face just inches from an article I was trying to read, and when I noticed their gaze, I would explain that I was legally blind.

It seemed the vast majority thought if a person were blind then they would not be able to read at all. It seemed they could not comprehend that although I had no central vision, I still had my peripheral vision.

Life today is a continual daily task of learning to do all things in a new way. The simplest task that used to take a few moments now take an hour or more to accomplish.

The loss of my central vision has given me a greater appreciation of what vision still remains. This fact brings bittersweet reality to an old cliché; “You never know what you had until it’s gone.”

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