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May is National Healthy Vision and Better Hearing & Speech Month
Facing Macular Degeneration …by Paula Dibble
Though still busy and active, in her seventies my mother began having problems with her vision. I remember her telling me over and over, “I can’t see.” Subsequently, she was diagnosed with macular degeneration. Trying to understand what was happening to her eyesight was difficult for all of us. The eye doctor (l-r) Paula’s mom Betty, Paula, her sister Sandy explained to our family that just like tree roots sometimes It was recommended that she push up and create bumps in the contact an organization called, sidewalk, the disease essentially Northwest Center for the Blind causes the same thing to happen and Partially Sighted (presently to blood vessels in the eye. Her called SightConnection). The vision had become distorted, and folks from the organization he predicted it would get worse. came out and, after assessing He recommended laser surgery the situation, began to make and although the problem was not modifications and suggestions to likely to be corrected by surgery, help Mom with daily tasks and it could help keep it from getting hobbies. worse. To help her be as independent Mom asked him, “If it was in the house as possible, the your Mother, would you want her staff from SightConnection used to have the surgery?” He took a fingernail polish and black tape breath and said he would. After to make raised marks on the dials the surgery, Mom had a black spot of the appliances and thermostat in the center of her vision, but she so she could continue to wash could see around the edges of that. clothes, adjust the temperature,
and turn on the oven or burners. Magnifying glasses were brought to the house. Understandably, my mother was upset that she could no longer participate in some of her favorite pastimes. She loved to crochet, read, play cards and bowl. Her limited vision was making those hobbies difficult to do. SightConnection staff helped her continue to enjoy those activities. One helpful suggestion was to place a white cloth on her lap and use a dark contrasting thread with a big crochet hook. In that way, she could crochet! Her card playing friends didn’t mind switching to the playing cards with big numbers and symbols. They were more than happy to say the suit and number of a card out loud anytime she needed help identifying it. Lucky for Mom, my daughter worked at a library and kept her stocked up on audio books. The regular granddaughter visits to
Dry EyeWet Eye Syndrome …by Lois (Mike) Cassill
The intricate workings of the body intrigue me. I'm thinking about all the synchronized parts that constantly work behind the scenes day and night, night and day. Some of my parts are understandably beginning to tire and cause me problems. But on a positive note—what a great opportunity to learn some stuff. A recent problem of mine was what I described as “a sty on my lower left eyelid.” It was a bit sore; inside the eyelid was quite red and angry looking. I made an appointment with an ophthalmologist who examined the eye and quickly recognized the problem. He told me the lower eyelid is lined with tiny continued on page 18 little ducts which produce oil. That oil mixes with tears to keep them from evaporating. Fascinating. In my case, one or more of these ducts is clogged— probably due to an infection. He pointed out that we had to clear up the infection and then get that oil flowing again by applying heat. A hot compress a couple of times a day is a pleasant and relaxing solution for unclogging the oil ducts. At my follow-up visit to the ophthalmologist, I saw a second doctor who told me the same exact story. That did it. Now I totally believed this scenario about the oil mixing with the tears to keep them constantly circulating in the eye and not evaporating, wild as it sounds. All of this leads me to the “wet eye-dry eye” situation which seems to be a common problem among older folks, like me. Doesn't it stand to reason that the constant production and spilling of tears, which causes the tear ducts to make more and more, could be halted? Of course it does. You know, I think I've stumbled onto something...a hot compress (as hot as you can stand) applied a couple of times a day should keep the whole system in perfect working order. Besides, it's pretty pleasant. No charge for my amateur diagnosis. ❖
Celebrating life after 50 in the Puget Sound region since 1986.