Life with June: When the lights began to dim

sunset on lake
Navigating the gathering darkness

I’ll never forget when Mom’s condition first began to be noticeable. Her eyes just could not adjust in dim or low light. We were in a local department store and because she didn’t like escalators, she said she’d meet me upstairs and she’d take the elevator.

This didn’t strike me as odd. We’d split up while shopping a million times in our lives. But today was different.

When we caught up with each other upstairs I saw something in my mother’s face I’d never seen before — fear. She was visibly shaken. The elevator was dark. The buttons were difficult to see and Mom had a difficult time figuring everything out. She got very disoriented.

I knew then that our life was changing but wasn’t quite sure how.

A visit to her ophthalmologist gave us the news we feared.  At age 89, June was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  While she was assured that she would never go completely blind, the fact that dimly lit places were becoming a problem clued us into the fact that never going completely blind doesn’t mean life will be a breeze.

June has the  “dry” form of the disease, which is often considered the lesser of the two evils in AMD. That said, this can progress quickly or slowly. Experts note you never completely lose your sight with it; usually retaining your peripheral vision. But that’s small consolation, especially if you are nearsighted or have other vision problems.

The other form of macular degeneration is known as “wet.” This is where there is bleeding into the macula and is considered advance macular degeneration. Dry can turn into wet and regular check ups are important to make sure the disease isn’t advancing to the wet form.

As my mother’s world began to dim, we started a new journey together navigating the gathering darkness.

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