An older couple are in a car, with the woman driving. She looks angry and explodes at her partner sitting in the passenger seat, who leans back in surprise.

Anxiety, Irritation, and Macular Degeneration

With apologies to Mick Jagger, 'I can't get no irritation.' But I can!

Time to renew my drivers license

This week I had to have my Driver's License renewed. Last year when I looked at my Driver's License, I realized 2020 would be the year for renewal and was the first time I would be required to take an eye exam in order to renew. At that point, I was 6 months into the research study for a new Macular Degeneration treatment and had begun shots in my left eye.

The what ifs

The dread and the "what ifs" started then. Without being conscious of it, the bothersome little thought of "What if I can't read the letters on the eye exam chart when I renew?" began. It didn't stay in my conscious mind every day, but it was there.

As the days grew closer to D Day, my anxiety levels started to rise. You probably know what happens with anxiety, we try to manage it and oftentimes fail miserably at managing it. For me, my anxiety came out as irritation.


You probably also know that when you feel irritation, those closest to you are the ones who suffer from your irritation. But that's not fair, you might say, and you would be correct! Doesn't matter. You feel what you feel. It is what you do with that feeling that is important.

The day had finally come

On the day of my renewal, an appointment was required because of COVID - more anxiety! I decided that I would drive myself to the Driver's Services Building 45 minutes away. My husband came with me, too - a terrible backseat driver, by the way.

Stress, uncertainty, and. emotions

The closer we came to our destination, the more my anxiety ramped up.

What if this was the last time I was able to actually drive myself anywhere? What would that be like? Where would my independence go? How would I take care of the million and one things I have to do?

Long story short, my husband made the dreadful mistake of telling me where to turn. I exploded on him. Totally unfair, totally uncalled for, totally irrational, but it happened.

The eye exam

I have one good eye, and I'm uncertain why I was so worried about not being able to read an eye chart. The first thing that happened when I walked into the building, my eyeglasses fogged up. Freezing outside, warm in the building, and I was wearing a mask, yes, there was much fogging of the glasses.

Great I thought, now I REALLY won't be able to read the chart. 8 5 7 9 Those were the numbers I was asked to read on the eye chart, and I read them, got my license, and left the building feeling like the weight of the world had been lifted.

Sharing my macular degeneration induced anxiety

My husband, on the other hand, was in the car, feeling the weight of my irritability and explosion. I realized how unfair I had been that the problem existed with me, and I apologized and explained how this anxiety had been building for a year. I think he understood, at least I hope he did.

I tell you all of this to hopefully cause you to think about your own anxiety over macular degeneration. There is no fault. No one is to blame. It's just the luck of the draw. Anxiety is part of the disease. My responsibility is to deal with the anxiety, anger, and irritation that results. So when anxiety comes to call, invite it in, talk with it, decide exactly where and what is causing this anxiety and own it, then poke anxiety in the eye with a sugar spoon cause 'I can't get no irritation.'

I have better things to do and more memories to make.

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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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