An older man talks on a telephone while looking at a doctor's business card. On the table he is sitting at are papers with signatures and a brochure featuring an eye and a heart. Behind him on the wall are stacks of records on shelves next to two war medals hanging on the wall.

Fear and Macular Degeneration

Welcome fellow members, to the club no one wants to join! Yep, it’s the macular degeneration club. I guess we should probably try to make the best out of our situation... but how? How do we go about handling the load that failing vision puts on us? That’s what I will try to offer with this article, I am hoping to identify, categorize, and figure out a strategy we might employ to aid us in this battle.

I might as well start out with the big one...fear

The fear is real, I know because it visits me more often than I would like. Let’s pretend like our failing vision is like a war. It really is a kind of war we find ourselves in, isn’t it? In war, it is important to identify your enemy. For the sake of starting this process, our current enemy is formidable and its name is FEAR!

Strategies for fighting fear

Welcome to our platoon! I’ll be your sergeant today and we’re going to lock and load and go into battle! Here are two strategies we will employ:

Offensive strategies:

  • like making and keeping regular appointments with your eye doctor
  • joining and participating in a support and information group, like this one!

Defensive strategies:

  • maintain a healthy weight
  • eat a nutritious diet that includes leafy green vegetables, yellow, orange and red fruit, oily fish such as salmon and whole grains
  • don’t smoke or cease smoking
  • maintain normal blood pressure and control other medical conditions
  • exercise regularly

We'll elaborate on offensive and defensive tactics in a minute, just hold your horses for now.

Fear and macular degeneration, aka our enemy

There's a lot of talk around the fear, but not much on why – is it a general fear or a specific fear? OK, at ease men (and women), let’s start naming and identifying our foe.

  • Fear of failing vision. We certainly don’t wish to become a VIP or visually impaired person. But as the quote goes, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." OK, I’ve beaten this poor horse enough, we have a valid fear of becoming visually impaired.
  • What exactly are we afraid of? Is it the “basics” like food and shelter? Maybe it’s having to become a burden to someone else? Could it be a money fear, like we could no longer earn a living or pay expenses?

Yes, fear comes in many forms and can be debilitating if left unaddressed.

Coping with our fears

Well troops, first we identify “the target” – the specific fear itself. We name it and ponder a solution to each and every fear. A good leader leads from the front, so I will name some of mine and add my plan to address them:

  1. What if I can’t drive? Plan: let my wife or friends drive, use Uber, Lyft or public transportation.
  2. Reading, what about reading? Plan: audiobooks. (I’m a voracious reader, it’s a big part of my life).
  3. Heaven forbid, but what if my spouse dies before I do? Plan: I’m 72 years old now, 10 years ago I bought a “long term care insurance policy.” (I hope never to use it but it is there as a last resort... my version of a “final stand”.)

Using fear as a tool

So as someone famous once said, “We have seen the enemy, and it is us!” Time is precious, life is a wonder but none of us are getting out of this alive. How we spend our remaining days is really up to us alone. Prior to something being taken away, whatever that may be becomes doubly precious. Enjoy what we have, while we have it. Use fear as a tool to make a plan, the best plan you can.

Alright troops! I’m awarding all of you a Purple Heart and a Medal of Honor! About face!! Dismissed!!!

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