I had never heard of macular degeneration. I had a rude awakening of it. during a routine eye examination my ophthalmologist told me that he had good and bad news for me. I was startled. Obviously this remark must pertain to my eyes. I am a painter, seeing, observing as an artist has been my business all of my long life. I had always been keenly aware of my eyes, their condition and function in relation to my general health. Years ago I had stopped smoking primarily because it seemed to affect my eyes. Careful attention to my glasses and annual eye examinations had always been a prime concern with me. My eyes were my working tool and this man had good and bad news about them. “Well” I said, “What is the good news”. He said, “You will not go completely blind. “My God. What was this never go completely blind”. “What then is the bad news.” “ You are going to have a hell of a time seeing from now on” was his matter of fact answer. What is the problem. It is called macular degeneration. He described the disease in general terms. The deterioration of the tiny spot, the macula. It is part of the retina that has to do with central vision.Then there was his not very optimistic explanation that it was any age related condition primarily thought to be hereditary. that there were no sure explanation as to other contributing causes. Blue eyed people were perhaps more susceptible because there was no protection pigmentation in the eye. there was no conclusive proof that vitamins or any other medication could do much good. Laser treatment was supposed to be useful in cases where there was bleeding in the retina and that little could be done with stronger lenses or glasses. He did say too that a great deal of research was being done in this area.
It was a bleak outlook or would have been except for the fact that I was a busy artist painting, teaching, exhibiting and traveling. there was little time to dwell upon this problem. I could still drive. I seemed to have little problem then with my work.
But things did begin to change. Black spots in my vision and a few unnerving experiences in my driving. Yes! There was something going on here. there were large floating island of dark. There were flashing lights, strange net works of lines. All straight lines were becoming distorted. A grid of lines was like a fish net. there were lavender and green blots floating continually before my eyes. It was confusing, disturbing. My wonderful experience of seeing. So much a part of me yet one that had been taken for granted was becoming distorted, blurred frightening.
I was frightened. When I followed directions and underwent some laser treatment I could not stand the invasion upon my eyes. I will never be sure whether or not I could have profited by more such treatments. I suspect it and have never had commitment from any of my doctors that is a valuable treatment.
I made an aggressive search for help following every lead. I did by my own effort and discovery find some visual aids that the doctors never mentioned or alerted me to. It remains a mystery to me how the medical men, the ophthalmologist separate themselves so completely from the visual aids, homeopathic school and thought and procedures.