The Target and The Sweet Spot

The target and the sweet spot.

What does that mean?

A golfer would think those words meant the place you want the ball to go (the target) and a point on the face of the golf club (the sweet spot). On your swing, you want the club to meet the ball at the sweet spot so the ball will go its farthest.

Turns out that target and sweet spot can have a different meaning for someone with macular degeneration.

About a month ago I learned that I had developed wet AMD in my “good” eye. After an injection in each eye, a good cry, and much cursing, I decided to suck it up and see what could be done in addition to the regular monitoring, injections, vitamins, and diet.

Low vision specialists

My journey led me to a low vision specialist, an occupational therapist who helps people with AMD make the most of the vision they do have.

An evaluation

First the questions and then the testing. Questions about my general health. More questions about how my current vision affects my daily life. Being as honest as I could I realized that I had already been making accommodations for my AMD: more lighting, organizing clothes by color, using a flashlight for menu reading in dark restaurants.

Then the vision test, first for each eye individually and then both eyes. Testing of peripheral vision. Another test for how fast I could read individual letters and words printed in a specific type size.

Testing peripheral vision

Another required me to move my eye, not my head. One of the things I noticed in the testing was that if I moved my head to a certain position, I could clearly see a letter on the eye chart that would normally be covered by that gray blur of my damaged macula.

I put on a pair of plastic glasses to cover my reading glasses. The occupational therapist marked the center of my good eye and covered everything else with black tape. All I could see came through a hole smaller than the eraser on a pencil.

The sweets spot

The therapist drew a clock face with a star in the center. Using only my good eye, I was to focus on the star and without moving my head or eye tell her which number or numbers I saw most clearly. Then I focused on each number, identifying at which I saw the star most clearly. That area is the sweet spot. That’s where I am to look. It is as hard to do as it is to describe.

At its basic level, the idea is that the exercises will train my brain to develop a pseudo-fovea. The fovea is the very center of the macula.

Practice makes perfect

Homework for the next week: Practice keeping my eye on the sweet spot for 30 to 90 seconds several times a day.

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