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A woman looks at a large flower and paints its image with a paintbrush as swirls of colors surround her.

Is Macular Degeneration Holding You Back?

Or is it something else?

Before retirement, I never seemed to have enough time to do everything I wanted. There was always some fun or interesting activity I just couldn’t squeeze into an already busy schedule. Now that I’m retired, I do have more time BUT I’m dealing with the visual limitations of AMD that are getting in the way. Or are they? Maybe it goes a little deeper – Maybe it’s all in my head!

Limitations don’t have to block joy

Various physical conditions may challenge us throughout the years – Some temporary and others more permanent – Many we never imagined would be in our future. Yet here we are, learning to accept the situation, however difficult, and finding ways to continue with our lives. Macular degeneration is one of those challenges and not an easy pill to swallow.

Whether we accept our vision challenges or not, we will still have them. However, it’s totally up to us if we allow it to rob us of our joy. Not being one to “go quietly,” I refuse to let macular degeneration define me and destroy my life. Here’s my story.

Overcoming fear of the future with AMD

Eleven years ago after cataract surgery, I was diagnosed with the beginning stage of dry AMD (age-related macular degeneration) by the surgeon who removed my cataracts. This was not unexpected due to my family history but still not news I wanted to hear. Luckily, I had accumulated many coping skills that came in handy over the next 11 years.

Below is a bulleted list of how I was able to overcome fear often associated with AMD, such as the fear of not being able to drive or read, which could lead to isolation and depression. Leaning more towards being an extrovert than an introvert, I found ways to keep busy while maintaining a meaningful, productive life. I hope sharing these actions might spark some ideas of your own!

How I've kept sane and given my life purpose and joy since my diagnosis:

  • Continuing an exercise routine and making healthy food choices
  • Writing and advocating for macular degeneration at
  • Seeking counseling when I couldn’t shake a blue mood that wouldn’t go away
  • Starting a meditation and mindfulness group that meets twice a month in my home
  • At 75, looking into being certified as a part time Silver Sneakers Instructor in my community
  • Learning about publishing through a writing class series offered in my community
  • Considering a painting class to replace portrait drawing (which required more detail)
  • Planning outings and events, such as a family reunion this summer
  • Continuing to work part time at the front desk at our community club house
  • Booking a guided, 3-day bus tour to the Tulip Festival in Holland, Michigan

Time to self-assess

Is AMD holding you back from taking risks, making a change, or chasing that dream? Is it truly your vision challenges or is something else holding you back, like your thoughts about what you can or can’t do? Granted, it may not be possible. But the ONLY way to find out is to try!

How might YOU lead a more purposeful, joyful life – IN SPITE OF MACULAR DEGENERATION? Maybe you’re already doing it. We could all use some ideas. Please share yours!

“Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds.” – author unknown

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

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