I have had myopia since I was a little girl. When I was five years old, my sister, Marjorie, was getting terrible headaches. They were so bad that my parents took her to the pediatrician. He suggested that they take her to an eye doctor. Even though she was only four, they made an appointment for her. I guess they thought that they might as well make an appointment for me at the same time. Marge’s vision was fine, but I received a prescription for my first pair of glasses.
For a long time, having myopia just meant that I had to wear glasses. As the years went by, my glasses grew thicker and thicker. I went to see the eye doctor every single year and every single year I needed a stronger prescription. When I was thirteen, I started asking for contact lenses. My coke-bottle glasses were too much for me to bear any longer. My eye doctor promised that I could get contacts as soon as my vision leveled off. I asked for contacts every time I saw him after that and, each time, he promised that I could get them when my eyes stabilized. Finally, when I was 17, we decided together that I could try contacts. My vision was still deteriorating, but now my eye doctor thought that contacts would give me better correction. I was so happy to wear contacts instead of glasses.
I wore my contacts all day, every day for the next 30 years. I stopped even buying “spare” glasses. I just could not see as clearly with glasses as I could with contacts. Hard lenses evolved into gas permeable lenses. I never complained about any aspect of wearing contacts, because I knew that my contacts were improving my vision significantly. I remember that one ophthalmologist tried to discover more details about my vision. He used some strange machine to measure the length of my eye. I remember that he found my eye measurement “remarkable.” Somewhere, in some medical archives, maybe those records still exist. I don’t know what that information means. No one has mentioned measuring my eye length since.
As I moved around, I changed eye doctors several times. Each new eye doc was intrigued by my vision history. Each one documented my deterioration. When things finally reached a crisis point, when I noticed a flashing of light that was eventually diagnosed as a small tear in my macula, I started seeing a retina specialist. The crisis passed, the tear healed, and I went back to my “normal” ophthalmologist.
A couple of years ago, I started noticing some very strange things happening with my vision. Everything got fuzzy. I noticed that, whwn I was driving, telephone poles looked broken. The top halves looked disconnected from the bottom halves. Type on the computer became impossible to read because it looked broken and choppy. My eye doctor sent me to a retina specialist. As it happened, I was sent to the same retina specialist I had visited years before when my macula tore. I felt so confident that he would fix everything, make everything better, like he had before.
The specialist did not remember me. He took my history and we talked about the strange things I was seeing. Then, he looked at my retinas. “Oh,” he said> “I remember these eyes. They are very interesting.” I didn’t know whether to be proud or offended. I had a retina scan and an angiogram. My rs quickly diagnosed me as having Myopic Macular Degeneration. The broken lines were caused by bleeding in my macula. John watched the screen during the angiogram and he could actually see blood dripping inside my eye.
My journey into low vision living had begun. I had no idea what lay ahead. I trusted my retina specialist to do his best to maintain my vision. Testing and avastin shots and PDT treatments and surgery were ahead of me. I have learned a lot since the day of my diagnosis. The most important thing that I have learned is that reduced vision does not mean reduced value of life. While I never could have foreseen the medical procedures I would face, I also never imagined the grace that would touch my life because of my vision loss. My life is full and joyful, even though my vision continues to deteriorate.