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A woman wearing a witch costume and carrying a jack-o-lantern candy bucket walks away confidently from demons (one carrying a syringe, one showing a meal plan of only salads, one as a creepy psychiatrist) floating behind her.

The Scary Truth About Macular Degeneration

Fall has arrived, and it’s my favorite season! There’s just something really special to me about fall, but as with almost everything else in 2020, Halloween looks a lot different.

A different kind of Halloween

Our little town is trying to make up for changes in trick-or-treating by having a Halloween Crawl, where many have decorated their houses, so everyone can drive around to see the spooky neighborhoods. With all of the ghoul, ghost, and bloody monster decorations donning the town, I just had to chuckle to myself a little bit.

I remember a time long ago where I found these Halloween decorations scary too... but didn’t always need to. And now it all has me thinking about things that are scary in real life today with macular degeneration... but don’t have to be.

Threatening blindness

One of the scariest aspects of this disease is the threat of possible blindness.

When I was first diagnosed, I was absolutely frightened by the thought that someday I would be completely blind. To me, there are few things in this life scarier than that.

Why this doesn’t have to be so scary

Thankfully since then, I have learned that macular degeneration only affects central vision. And though the possibility of total central blindness is definitely terrifying at times, it’s certainly a lot less scary knowing I will not ever go completely blind.

Knowing I may lose my central vision also helps me better appreciate things differently each day. The threat of severe vision loss has really allowed me to start crossing things off of my visual bucket list and start living my best life.

Freaky floaters

One of the most annoying aspects of macular degeneration for me has been pesky floaters! They’re always in my line of vision floating around. Floaters are caused by detached vitreous gel in our eyes. After the gel detaches, it then floats around causing visual shadows that look like they’re slowly floating around.

Why floaters don’t have to be so scary

The good news is that floaters don't pose problems to our eyes. They're slightly annoying, but generally not dangerous. Everyone’s vitreous gel detaches at some point in life, usually in their sixties or later. Mine happened to detach about forty years too soon...but that’s not all bad news.

As vitreous gel detaches, it can cause retinal tears and holes that need to be surgically repaired. This happened to me and caused me to quit running for exercise. The constant pounding of each step could've aided in more tears. Now that my vitreous gel has completely detached, there no threat of another tear. I've been able to start running again!

Petrifying Injections

Let’s be honest, nobody in the history of ever thought a needle injected directly into their eyeball seemed pleasant. It can feel very unsettling, especially if injections are new. I urge anyone who is feeling uneasy about injections to read a few of our articles written about what to expect. Educating ourselves about scary things can really help us to feel better about them.

Why injections don’t have to be so frightening

Though injections can’t restore lost vision, they can help us preserve the vision we still have. I don’t know about you, but I find that to be comforting. Nobody ‘likes’ getting injections, but I’m willing to go out on a limb and say many of us would do ANYTHING to keep our eyes seeing.

Lousy lifestyle changes

Not all of us enjoy eating healthier foods... less sugar and more leafy greens aren’t always the most appealing choice at mealtimes. Plus, if there’s any season where it’s difficult to eat less sugar, it’s now! The stores are exploding with bags of candy and new fall flavors...pumpkin spice latte, anyone? And, is it just me, or does the change in weather mean cozying up and snacking on comfort food?

Why eating healthier doesn’t have to feel atrocious

If you’re looking for meal ideas for healthier eating, look no further! Here at MacularDegeneration.net, we have a whole list of easy to prepare, eye-healthy recipes! We even have pre-made grocery lists for all of the different types of nutrients you’re looking for.

If you’re struggling to change your diet or eating habits, remember that small steps yield big results! Can you start by cutting out a sugary drink every day? Or, make one healthier meal per day? Easy does it, every small change matters!

Frightening focus on mental health

Every disease has a mental health aspect, including macular degeneration. That doesn’t mean that focusing on our mental health is an easy thing to do. Something really great about mental health is that we get to be in charge of it. I try to check in with myself daily and just see what I may need. Are you feeling down or anxious? If so, what can you do about it?

Why mental health doesn’t have to feel terrifying

If you put the work into your emotional well-being, you won’t regret it. A decrease in mental health can really take its toll on our bodies and eyes. You can read our articles written about self-love and therapy to help get you started.

A diagnosis of macular degeneration doesn’t have to be scary. There are many things we CAN control. Shifting our perspective and educating ourselves really helps. Things in life can sometimes start out as frightening. Over time, we learn how to understand and appreciate them... and then they don’t scare us anymore.

Happy Fall!
Andrea Junge

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