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Macular Degeneration
Living Positively with Vision Loss
By Betty Wason with James J. McMillan

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Macular Degeneration: Living Positively with Vision Loss

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Macular Degeneration: Living Positively with Vision Loss
Large Print Edition
By Betty Wason with James J. McMillan, M.D.
Hunter House Publishing, (1998)
ISBN: 0-89793-240-4
Genre: Health - Eye Diseases

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - October 21, 2001

Macular Degeneration - two words that can change your life. For many people, being diagnosed with Macular Degeneration, often called MD or ARMD (age-related macular degeneration), is a traumatic experience. All to often the eye doctor sends the patient away without a real understanding of what the condition is, and, more important, what the patient can expect down the road. Unfortunately, this leads many to mistakenly believe that they will go blind and that their life is 'over'. This is a tragic situation that is repeated far to often. While MD can adversely affect your vision, it seldom caused total blindness, although it may cause legal blindness. The 'numbers' used to denote legal blindness are arbitrary, they were chosen as a cut off point used to determine who is eligible for certain services and perks, such as an extra tax deduction. Many people who are legally blind still have a great deal of usable vision, so much so that there are many people who are legally blind, but who are still able to, legally, drive!

Macular Degeneration: Living Positively with Vision Loss by Betty Wason helps to dispel many of the myths surrounding MD, and to clearly illustrate that there is life after MD and that it can be as vibrant and enriching as life was before the diagnosis. In this book, Wason writes about her own vision loss, and how she dealt with the challenges it presented. She also offers the reader a concise overview of how the eyes work and what MD is and how it can affect a persons vision. She also offers a brief overview of various symptoms that could indicate a vision problem, the risk factors of developing various eye diseases, and the treatments available to treat these conditions. In writing this book, Wason was aided by Dr. James J. McMillan, Wason's own ophthalmologist.

In addition to covering the medical aspects of MD and vision loss, Wason provides a detailed looked a the various services available for individuals suffering from vision loss, including low vision clinics and support groups. She also offers tips on how to adjust your home, and your surroundings, to your loss of vision in order to make your home safer and easier to navigate, and in order to enable you to function independently. Throughout, this book is embellished with cameos of real people dealing with vision loss. These cameos describe the problems that they have faced, and how they overcame them.

This is a positive book. Wason is a wonderful cheerleader, offering sage advice and keen psychological insights into the feelings that someone who is losing their vision often feels. She offers advice on how to deal with and minimize stress. She points out the importance of eating well and getting plenty of exercises, and most important, the importance of being happy. With a positive attitude you can do anything - even play golf, if that is your cup of tea! She stresses the importance of getting help, both personally and physically. Support groups and friends can help you live a happier and fuller life, but she also points out that you can get help almost anywhere - even the super market. Wason explains that when she shops she requests the assistance of a customer service representative, who in turn walks around the store with her, helping her to pick out her groceries. Human companionship is not the only resource she discuses, she also provides information on the unbelievable assortment of assistive technologies which exist that can help you lead a more productive life. These can range from a CCTV that enlarges the text of books and letters to tiny felt dots that you can stick on your stove so that you can 'feel' the various settings.

This is a wonderful, uplifting guide book that not only explains what MD is, but which will also help you to live with it. It will help you to understand the medical side of the condition, and the psychological side. By keeping your spirits high you will maintain your freedom and your self respect. Once you make a concerted effort to overcome the challenge presented by your vision loss, you may well find yourself doing more, and going more places than you did before you knew you had MD. According to Wason, it is all simply a matter of attitude. To help you achieve this robust attitude, she has included a list of resources where you can find out more about MD and how to deal with vision loss. This list includes both brick and mortar resources as well as internet resources. Also included is a 'suggested reading list'. The only drawback to this otherwise fine book is that it is printed in standard print and not large type.

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