This is a guest post by Griff Haeger regarding his personal experience with macular degeneration.
My name is Griff and I live with dry macular degeneration. The macula in both of my separate eyes has been deteriorating over the last several years to the point where my vision has been compromised. The macula is a spot near the center of the human eye that is a key component of human vision.
This disease caught me off guard, without a doubt. However, I have learned to cope with the issue and my quality of life has not been altered. There is a vast amount of information on macular degeneration, which makes me feel more comfortable living with the disease.
I was first officially diagnosed with the disease when I was 58, but it has probably been a part of my anatomy for much longer. My symptoms were and are pretty straight forward, and are listed below. I am explaining them so that other people can assess their own vision and hopefully make some progress before the condition worsens.
My first symptom was classic. In the early mornings, starting last November, I started to notice subtle blurry vision each morning when I woke up. I thought it was a lack of sleep that was causing it, so I entered a period of denial and just tried to get a few extra hours of rest each night. However, the blurry vision continued.
Trouble Distinguishing Colors
As my symptoms started in November and I live in Idaho, there wasn’t much color in outdoor landscape. I always had struggled with light sensitivity, but I started to notice something else. I began to realize that my color vision seemed less vibrant. I noticed it first inside, then outside. Cars with bright colors seemed less noticeable and all colors inside my house seemed a little bit dulled down.
I’m an avid reader, even now. In February of this year I started to notice that my reading was beginning to feel odd each time I opened the sports section of the newspaper. The lines of writing appeared to be slightly skewed and a little bit softer. This was a stage in my symptom progression that I started to freak out a little bit. Reading is my life!
Further Diminished Vision
The tipping point for me was when my wife’s face began to become blurry from across the room. I think my symptoms progressed faster than normal, or else I just hadn’t caught on as quickly as other people with the disease. This was a really harsh reality for me, as I finally dropped the denial and realized that something was actually wrong. A note here is that the blurriness was not and is not overly dramatic in my case. I can still recognize faces, but just without really fine points of definition.
I did some serious research on the American Academy of Optometry website and determined that I needed to get checked out. While there is no total cure for the disease, people who suffer from macular degeneration never lose total vision as the peripheral stays intact. This gave me hope that I could continue to live and love life, even with diminished vision.
Yes, my life has been altered. My reading has been transformed a bit, but I still scan the sports section like it’s a full time job. It’s just hard, realizing that part of my anatomy has begun to legitimately falter. I wanted to write this article to help people pre-diagnose themselves so that they can take positive action earlier than later.
My doctor has me taking a vitamin formulation with the goal of preventing the disease from getting worse. I will refrain from offering you direct advice with regards to treatment because I’m not a doctor. Your individual physician will determine the best course of action for your particular situation, and there is plenty of research about the most viable courses of action.
If you suffer from macular degeneration it’s important to keep your eyes out for symptoms, literally! Additionally, continue to live your life as you normally would. This disease is a time for change, not giving up hope.
By Griff Haeger