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What Hobbies Can People Living With Macular Degeneration Do?

That is such an easy question! In my Facebook group, I have members from all over the world, of all ages, and with various stages of macular degeneration. Most of them have Age-Related Macular Degeneration – AMD). What they do for fun varies by these factors, of course.

The easy answer to “What do people with macular degeneration do for fun?” is…

…anything they want to!

It may require changing how a person does something, but those who are willing to adapt lead full lives which includes fun!

Traveling

If you are reading the MacularDegeneration.net pages regularly, you’ve read articles written by Sue who is my long-time friend who is legally blind. Sue is currently on a cruise. It’s something she and her husband do regularly because they can each choose what they want to do if they don’t agree. She also travels abroad and was in Ireland in April. Last year it was Iceland.

One of our other advocates, Christine, has traveled extensively. She writes, “I have been to 18 states, 3 countries, 2 islands, 2 continents, and swam in all 4 oceans.”

Members of my group have traveled to exotic-to-me places like Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, South Africa, Alaska, Italy, and other locales.  The only place that I’ve heard of that may not be good for one’s eyes is Machu Picchu because of the altitude. Did you know that there are actually travel agencies just for those with a visual impairment, their friends and families?

One thing to take into consideration: If you have wet AMD and want to travel, check with your retinal specialist to make sure your eye is stable and won’t be affected by your travel plans. If you will be away for an extended period of time, check ahead to make sure you know where you could find a retinal specialist in case your vision changes.

Sewing

Sewing is a popular activity with VIPs (Visually Impaired Persons) in my group. There can be some issues such as threading needles for hand sewing or on a sewing machine, but there are products and techniques that can help with that. If you are interested, you can search for ‘sewing low vision’ which will give you quite a few ideas. The best possible lighting is really important. There are many products that can help with that.

Quilt making

Several VIPs have shared photos of stunning hand quilted or machine quilted works of art. Several of them have shared that they are using brighter colored materials and materials that provide better contrast for them. Thread colors have also changed for some to make it easier to see the stitches while making them. They are determined that they will continue to quilt for as long as they can.

Yarn and thread crafts

This is sometimes called fiber art. I’m not surprised that there are many of our members who crochet, knit, do cross-stitch, and other needlecrafts. Some of them have shared tips such as wearing a headband light with magnification like jewelers use so that their hands are free. They also recommend sorting their materials by color. As with quilting, they often using materials that provide contrast such as putting their work on a contrasting color mat or paper so that if it’s a light color project, put it on top of something dark. There are also lighted knitting needles and crochet hooks.

Drawing and painting

Did you know that artist Georgia O’Keeffe had macular degeneration? It’s thought that Degas had it, too. Monet’s works were affected by cataracts.1 Several of the VIPs I know who are artists have told me that they have changed the medium they worked with. They definitely added more and better lighting. Just like crafters do, many artists wear headband magnifiers. Some use handheld magnifiers or a CCTV. They are like other creative people in that they have vowed that they will continue to draw and paint “no matter what.”

Photography

In my Facebook group, there is a photo album with photos taken by VIPs. The subjects include landscapes, people, animals, flowers, and quite a few photographs taken while traveling. With modern smartphones and tablets, there’s a decent camera built it. All you need to do it point and shoot! You might be amazed at the results.

If you have trouble seeing a person’s face, take a photo of it. Look at the photo using your‘sweet spot’ which works well for many people. You can enlarge the image on the device or print it out and use a magnifier

A professional photographer with 20/400 vision has produced over 1,500 images. Tammy Ruggles started photography after she became legally blind.2 She said, “I’ve learned to focus on what I can do, rather than what I can’t do.” Good advice for us all!

Other activities

I’ve written about ways that VIPs can watch TV, go out to eat, read and listen to books, go to the theater, movies and museums. Other people have fun cooking or shopping. Many people go to the gym or take exercise classes. A lot of the members in my group love to play with their kids, grandkids, and pets, sometimes all at the same time!

Conclusion

What do people with macular degeneration do for fun? Anything they want to!
What these VIPs all have in common is that they will find a way to do the things that they enjoy “no matter what!”

What do YOU do for fun? We’d love to hear about it!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MacularDegeneration.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Continue Painting with Vision Loss. VisionAware. https://www.visionaware.org/info/everyday-living/recreation-and-leisure/arts-and-crafts/painting/1235. Accessed November 12, 2019.
  2. Carter M. The One Thing That Makes These Photos More Beautiful Than You Could Ever Realize. Country Living. https://www.countryliving.com/life/a36342/tammy-ruggles-legally-blind-photographer/. Published January 24, 2018. Accessed November 12, 2019.

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