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Macular Degeneration's Impact on Personal Relationships

When someone is diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), it affects everyone in the family, including close friends and even neighbors. Some with AMD think they are the only ones who need to adjust. Especially with dry AMD and with a gradual loss of central vision, it’s not always immediately apparent. So why all the fuss?

A warm and tender love story

Dale, a member of my community, shares his poignant and honest answer to that question from his perspective as a spouse. His wife, Cindy, was initially diagnosed with dry AMD and is now legally blind. Their lifestyle has changed dramatically, AND it’s not all bad!

There IS good news to this story! In fact, it’s a very warm and tender love story that I feel privileged to tell. Dale and Cindy have been married 48 years and have grown closer as a result of Cindy’s AMD. But it wasn’t always easy. Here’s Dale’s inspiring story.

The lucky day I met Dale and Cindy

While working the front desk at our clubhouse, Cindy and Dale approached me, and I immediately sensed their devotion. Dale was supportive and encouraging as Cindy explained her advanced AMD condition. They had read an article in our monthly community magazine about my AMD advocacy. That was the beginning of a valuable friendship!

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Ever since, both of them have been nothing short of stellar in their support and advocacy, unselfishly sharing their many resources with others. Immediately, I knew I wanted to interview Cindy. Then, it occurred to me how helpful it might be to also interview Dale from a spouse’s perspective. I’m so glad I did!

He didn't think it was that serious

Cindy was diagnosed with dry AMD 18 years ago when she was only 50. She was devastated by the news, but at the time, Dale didn’t grasp the magnitude of her diagnosis. After all, she could still see and was still driving and doing all the things she had always done. Their lifestyle had not changed. He didn’t think it was that serious. According to Dale, "I really wasn’t listening and was convinced it wasn’t as bad as she was saying."

Eight years passed without much fanfare, until the day Cindy came home in tears after a near-accident. She turned over her car keys the same day and felt depressed.

Gaining greater empathy

Up to that point, Dale did not realize how little vision Cindy had left. He started doing some research and accompanied Cindy for the first time to her retina specialist to learn more.

He was shocked when he discovered she couldn’t read the largest letters on the eye chart. It then sunk in how severely Cindy’s vision had deteriorated. Dale states, "I regret I didn’t take it seriously sooner." After that scare, everything changed, especially Dale’s empathy for Cindy’s condition.

A couple brought closer together

No longer able to drive, Cindy relies on Dale for transportation. This seems to bother Cindy more than Dale!

After being so independent, Cindy thought it was an imposition to rely on Dale, but that’s not how Dale feels. Now that he fully understands, he is eager to help as much as he can and doesn’t mind reading in the car while she shops or accompanying her to appointments. In fact, he stated, "I think it has made us closer since we’re together more now."

Dale's advice for other spouses

Dale's only regret is that he wishes he had listened and been more empathetic those first 8 years.

His advice is to communicate more and be open. Don’t hide your thoughts. He wishes he had understood sooner and had been more transparent. That has all changed now, and their relationship is even stronger.

A silver lining in the journey

In Dale’s words, "I don’t consider Cindy to be a challenge. It’s through our love for each other that I want to help." What we think is an imposition is probably not the case — most people want to help!

For Dale, "My silver lining through this journey has been not only helping Cindy, but helping others by sharing the resources, knowledge, and helpful tips that we have found. To see the expression on someone’s face is priceless when they learn a simple technique to make their life a little easier."

Showing gratitude to those who help

There are more Dales in this world. Show them your gratitude in the comments below. Who is YOUR Dale? How are they helping you meet your AMD challenges? Is it a spouse, another family member, a friend, a neighbor? Let's express our gratitude! Thanks to all our Dales!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MacularDegeneration.net 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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