Hi, I’m Andrea
Sometimes I think the powers that be put all of their power and energy into the beauty of my eyes and not their ability to function properly. My giant baby blues have really outdone themselves in the giant and blue department...buuuut...they’re struggling to do their job. I’ve had coke-bottle glasses almost my entire life, friends, and am currently sitting at -16 dioptres in my left eye and -14 in my right.
Before myopic macular degeneration
I remember getting my eyes dilated once when I was really young. My mom looked at me and explained that she didn’t think one of my eyes was dilating all the way. When I asked her what that meant, she explained simply that it meant it was not ‘getting bigger.’ Naturally, as any young child would do, I squinted one eye and tried to make the other one super big so I didn’t have to get the drops again. That was over 30 years ago, before I was diagnosed with Myopic Macular Degeneration (MMD). Now, when I go see my retina specialist, I’m still the youngest patient in the waiting room.
Young and losing vision
I am 37 years old and am slowly losing my central vision. It has taken me a long time to be able to say that without my eyes filling with tears.
This is me
Now, it's just part of who I am. I’ve always been extremely myopic, or nearsighted, so to me it’s ‘normal’. Though, I do joke that anyone with clear vision who walked in my shoes for a day would probably not even get out of bed, let alone live a very active and productive life.
Noticing a blind spot in central vision
When I was 26 and newly pregnant with my oldest son, I noticed a blind spot in the central portion of my right eye while driving to work. This led to panic and eventually a diagnosis that has changed my life in so many ways.
The meaning of a vision loss diagnosis
MMD meant that this was not just extreme nearsightedness, thick glasses and expensive contacts anymore. It meant a lot of worry about my future, concerns regarding my children’s future (they also have giant baby blues), a lot of visits to the doctor, a lot of research, a lot of lifestyle change, and a lot of learning and acceptance.
An invisible illness
I get complimented on my eyes a lot. Most of the time I just think, “Ha, if only they worked!” Instead, I politely reply with, ‘Thank you!’ because my eyes are sick, but you wouldn’t know by looking at them. Sometimes it feels really hard to talk to friends and family about my condition. Try as they might, they just don’t completely ‘get it’. I’ve even had a close friend tell me once that I used my pending vision loss 'as a crutch' and that I shouldn’t because I could 'still see'.
Looking for support
That’s about when I stopped talking about it unless I had to. I was trying to get my friend to accompany me on an expensive concert trip and commented that I was going to live my life BIG ‘from then on.' She didn’t understand, but how could she? It was also then that I sought support in online communities from people who could relate.
It’s been almost 12 years since I started my MMD journey. I have come to accept that this is just one obstacle I will face along my life journey. I try to see it (pun intended) as a way for me to live my best life and evolve into a stronger, better version of myself. While on this journey, I’ve met some really great people who helped me and inspired me to use my obstacle as a means to help others in need. This is why I’m here.
I’m so glad you’ve found your way here too and would love to hear your story. I hope you know that no matter how hard things may seem sometimes, you’re not alone!
Does macular degeneration affect your mental health?