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A pair of glasses lie broken on the ground.

Staying Safe With Geographic Atrophy

Do I get back on the horse? That’s the advice one gets following a fall from a horse. That is a question I am pondering since my last fall. This fall sent me to the hospital, and I am not healing as fast as usual.

I just turned 75, and after 10 years with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), I now have geographic atrophy (GA), the advanced form of dry macular degeneration. With central vision loss, I have lost my depth perception.

Our eyes play an integral role in balance. Try closing your eyes and standing still. Most likely, you will find yourself swaying and reaching for support.

A recent fall shook me to my core

My balance issues have caused many falls the past few years. Most were not serious enough to cause more than bruising, though I have broken 2 pairs of glasses.

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Determined to stay active, I tried physical therapy a couple of years ago. It helped build my core strength and improved my balance. I didn’t have any more falls until this year.

This last fall has shaken me to my core. My lacerations are slowly healing, but the bone bruising is so painful I am forced to use a cane to walk. I lost my mother 5 years ago to complications caused by a fall. Her death left me with a fear of falling.

Falling while getting the mail

I love to walk outdoors for exercise. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, I can feel my stress levels going down. Our driveway is 1/8 of a mile long and down a steep graveled path. After falling several times, I started using trekking poles to keep me upright. They worked very well. I have not fallen once when using the poles.

The most recent fall occurred when I drove down to our mailbox. I had only a few steps to walk from my car to the mailbox. It didn’t occur to me to use my trekking poles. Evidently, I fell when my foot rolled on a rock that I did not see.

A 'guardian angel' reminds me to stay safe and healthy

Recently, a community member mentioned she had an imaginary twin to remind her to make safe choices. I have decided to utilize my guardian angel to guide me.

There are so many ways my guardian angel can help me out. She can remind me to take my AREDS2 twice a day. When I am tempted to eat fast food, she can remind me that green leafy vegetables are good for my eyes.

I need a reminder to wear my sunglasses every time I go outdoors. Yes, even on short trips or overcast days, I need to protect my eyes.

Balancing activity with safety goals

I like to stay active, but perhaps it’s time to utilize my treadmill more and forego walking on steep gravel roads. I really dislike using a cane to walk in public. But I hate falls even more.

When walking across parking lots, I often stumble over uneven pavement. My guardian angel can remind me that’s it’s better to be safe and use my cane rather than worrying about my pride.

Lest you think I am giving up, I can assure you I will not. I will resume my physical activities as soon as I am healed enough to do so. I want to be as strong and active as I can possibly be. My goal is to balance my desire to be active with my safety goals. 

How has low vision impacted your activities? Drop a comment below to share your experience.

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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