Bad things can happen when you are young, inexperienced and vulnerable.
I was about 15 and even now as I write that visit to the optician gives me the creeps. The appointment was for 4 pm in the afternoon. I had never had an eye test before and didn’t know what to expect but I knew there was something wrong. At 5 pm he was still examining my eyes and he had sent his receptionist home. When we were alone he began to lean closer in towards me and place his hands unnecessarily on my body. I was terrified but somehow unable to move.
My mother became concerned. I should have been home long ago. She asked my brother Eddie to get on his bike to see if he could find me. I can still hear that banging on the glass. The door bell was not answered and the place was locked but he could see some light in the back of the office and so he banged and hammered on the door and windows like the good man he was. He took me home but I don’t know if any complaints were ever made.
Yesterday’s visit to the consultant eye surgeon was not quite as disturbing despite having optical coherence tomography and a fluroescein angiogram which involved being injected with a yellow liquid. The consultant was a charming man but it was the diagnosis this time that scared me.
Apparently I have macular degeneration. Son M trying cheer me up said it sounded like a fish left too long on the pier. I have the dry type for which there is currently no cure. The consultant recommended a vitamin pill to take daily. It will lead eventually to peripheral vision whereby reading, driving and doing close work will become impossible. Driving is currently impossible anyway because I never got the hang of it.
The consultant said that smoking is a major contributory factor and that it is usually inherited. I think again about Eddie who before he died was reduced to sitting very close to the television and using strong lights to read by. I didn’t know it then but realise now he must have had ARMD (age related macular degeneration).
I have questions. How long will it take to develop? Do I have it in both eyes? If I am very good and take the vitamins and eat lots of greens will I arrest the progression? I should have asked all those questions yesterday but my eyes were dilated, everything had a red glow after the angiogram and I was finding it hard to concentrate. I telephoned the consultant’s secretary this morning and she said that she would send me his written report in due course.
Bad things can happen when you are growing old but I am not alone and I can cope. It won’t be brother Eddie to the rescue this time but my loving family will always be there for me. Won’t you?