"I wear sunglasses, take supplements and eat healthily, in the hope I can keep it at bay"

Posted: Wednesday 29 September 2021 at 16:00

A few years ago Lisa and her sister, whose parents both have age-related macular degeneration (AMD), were told they had the very early stages of the condition. As a family they are now doing what they can to protect their sight and raise funds to find a cure.

Supporting two parents with the condition, Lisa, 54 and her sister Annalee were all too aware what a diagnosis of AMD meant. 

Lisa’s parents Val and Bill both have AMD and are regular members of the Swansea Macular Society support group.

Lisa said:  “Dad’s coming up to 90 now. He was about 65 when he was diagnosed and was a really active retiree. He loved golf and developed a hobby of making stained glass, so he made some beautiful stained glass lamps. He also loved photography. But all of those passions have been denied him in his retirement. He very quickly couldn’t do the stained glass and that was really sad, so he lost all his hobbies and interested really early.”

After he was diagnosed Lisa’s dad Bill was supported by his wife Val, who Lisa said ‘became his eyes’. But, sadly, two years ago Val was diagnosed with wet AMD and her eyesight deteriorated rapidly.

Lisa added: “Now the concern with mum is we have two partially sighted people who are struggling to maintain their independence. It’s really quite difficult. They are otherwise healthy people, but are struggling with everyday life and it’s so cruel. Thankfully the support group has been there to help them.”

Beating macular disease 

This weekend Lisa’s husband James will show his support for his wife and her family as he helps raise vital funds for research by running the London Marathon for the Society.

“Knowing that I am raising money for such valuable life changing research by the Macular Society has certainly spurred me on to complete the many hours of training over the past few months,” James said.

Lisa, who will be cheering on James at the event on Sunday, added: “James is hoping to complete the race in 4 hours and 20 minutes, which at the age of 55 will be a huge achievement and personal challenge.

“He’s motivated by seeing first-hand the impact the condition has had on my family, along with the support and research the Macular Society funds.”

Looking after your eyes 

Despite her parents’ struggles Lisa remains hopeful for the future and feels lucky she has been able to take action before her sight starts to deteriorate.

She said: “At least I’ve got the opportunity to do something about it; wear sunglasses, take supplements and eat healthily, in the hope I can keep it at bay. 

“You don’t want to alarm people, but if people know there are things you can do, like wear sunglasses, people would do that. Now I’m aware I can make adjustments, but sadly it’s too late for my parents.”

She added: “There’s so much happening and so much news about progress being made, that it doesn’t worry me. We’re grateful to the Society, the research they fund and the fantastic work they do supporting people with the condition.

“We feel fortunate that through the research funded by the Macular Society, we are informed of lifestyle changes that we can make to try and help protect our eyesight.” 

To sponsor James at the London Marathon on Sunday 3 October, in support of Lisa, Annalee and their parents visit: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/james-cashmore-london2021