A smiling woman in a bright space is wearing a large sun hat with a ribbon blowing in the wind, and large, dark cataract sunglasses.

Lessons Macular Degeneration Has Taught Me

I recently came across a column called “Lessons Life Taught Me” by Regina Brett, and realized I have learned some lessons myself from living with macular degeneration.

Living my best life

My “Living my Best Life with Macular Degeneration” lessons:

1. Life isn't fair...

Life isn't fair, but it's still good. This depends on our attitude. If we love life no matter what, it can be a joy. If we emit doom and gloom, that’s what we receive back. I have macular degeneration, but I can still _________ . (fill in the blank).

2. Give yourself permission

Allow yourself to be angry when stress or the seeming unfairness of life gets to you, but don’t let it overwhelm you or last too long. Set a time, and when it’s up, move along and find at least one reason to be joyful.

3. Wear the right sunglasses...

Wear the right sunglasses, even when it’s cloudy. Make sure they block 100% of UV light, and protect at the top and sides. Spend enough to get ones you love, maybe different ones for different outfits. Because you’re worth it! Add a wonderful hat on sunny days.

4. Enjoy every moment in nature...

Enjoy every moment in nature that you can. The birds singing, the warmth of the sun on your skin, even a snowy day can be uplifting. A walk in the woods, with the extra oxygen that provides, even a walk downtown window shopping if you can’t make it to a park is at least outdoors.

5. Clear the clutter!

Clear the clutter. Not only in your home or workplace, but also in your mind. Do you have 10 different worries floating around in your head at the same time, keeping you from truly relaxing? Clutter causes stress, and in some instances, can even be a safety hazard.

6. Eating healthy

Learn what to eat and learn to enjoy it. Our tastebuds can change. Lots of leafy greens are a good place to start. But enjoy the occasional treats too. Dark chocolate is always good for you! The Mediterranean diet is usually the one recommended. You can also make healthy choices without choosing any specific diet.

7. Discover your strength

Discover how much you can still actually do if you look at it from a different perspective. You may be amazed by how strong you really are.

8. Don’t be afraid

Don't be afraid to ask for help when needed. Most of our family and friends are quite willing to lend a hand. Just don’t overdo it and they’ll continue to be there for you. See if there’s something you can do to help them. You might surprise yourself!

9. Take care of your overall health

Take care of your overall health. Visit your primary care physician, not just your eye doctor. Undiagnosed diabetes or high blood pressure can rob you of sight too!

10. Maintain a healthy weight

Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a known risk factor. As others have done, I started adding some “Covid pounds” and finally just today reached my “before the pandemic” weight. Yay me!

11. Take your supplements

Take the AREDS supplements, if your doctor has suggested them and you’re at that stage of this disease.

12. No regrets

Life is too short to spend it regretting past choices. Regretting the past plays havoc with the present.

13. Make your eye healthy lifestyle a habit

Make your eye healthy lifestyle a habit, so you don’t even need to think about it.

14. More than your diagnosis

Know that you are more than your macular degeneration. Don’t let your life revolve around it.

15. Take a deep breath

Meditate.

16. Do it

Do it now. Whatever is do-able, or possible, enjoy it now.

Can you share what macular degeneration has taught you?

Have you learned some lessons you’d care to share with us? Either in the comments or perhaps in your own story of discovery?

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