Don’t Suffer in Silence. Speak Up!

I have had dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD) for 8 years now.  In the early years after diagnosis, there was very little effect on my daily life. 

Four years ago, I progressed to the intermediate stage. I began to notice a decline in my vision. Reading became much harder for me, and I began using my iPad to download books to read. At my last visit, the doctor told me that I was now showing signs of atrophy in my right eye.

With the decline in vision, I now find I need assistance. Asking family or friends for help is hard enough, but asking strangers is more so. I can suffer in silence or speak up.

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Shopping with a vision impairment

Shopping is one of my biggest challenges. As much as possible, I order my groceries online and pick up at the store. As convenient as that is, sometimes an in-store shopping trip is required.

Reading labels is very difficult unless they are at eye level. I find it nearly impossible to read a label either overhead or low on the shelves. It doesn’t help that I have arthritis, making it impossible to bend down to read the label.

Advocating for myself at the grocery store

I recently had a situation grocery shopping and could not find an item I needed. A clerk was stocking shelves nearby, and I asked for help. She cheerfully pointed to the shelf the item was located on. Walking over to the shelf, I found I couldn’t see the item. The clerk was less than helpful. In an irritated voice, she pointed and said, "It’s right there." Still I could not distinguish the item from all the other items on the shelf.

Finally, I told her I was vision-impaired and needed her to get the item for me. She did as I asked but made me feel like I had inconvenienced her. Leaving the store, I felt glad I had advocated for myself.

Dining out

Have you noticed how tiny the menus are nowadays? Unless I whip out my iPhone with the lighted magnifier app I can’t read a word.

Unlike the store clerk, wait staff are very helpful if I explain my vision impairment. After all, great service results in better tips. Recently we dined out in a new restaurant with large print menus. It was very much appreciated.

Paying with a credit card

Using my credit card to pay for purchases can cause a lot of embarrassment. I cannot always tell where to insert the card.

I have learned to speak up and request help from the clerk. The newer machines are much easier with tap-to-pay.

Gathering the courage to speak up at church

Until a couple of years ago, I could read the large print hymnals at our church. As my vision has declined, that is no longer possible. The words to each song are displayed on a large screen. Only problem is that the words are light gray on a white background.

Until a few months ago, that was readable. Since my recent vision decline, I can no longer distinguish the words. I haven’t yet had the courage to speak up requesting a change to black type on white. I plan to ask soon, not only for myself, but for the others in church with macular degeneration. It will be quite a task for our sound operator to make the change on 400+ songs. Wish me luck!

Do you suffer in silence or advocate for yourself? Please share your experience in a comment below.

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