Living independently with Macular Degeneration

This past year, Jessie was having a difficult time with her night vision and reading the smaller words on traffic signs. She knew her vision was getting worse due to advancing Macular Degeneration.

Macular degeneration is caused when part of the retina deteriorates. The macula is the central portion of the retina and is responsible for detailed vision and color vision, the vision we use to read, thread a needle, sign a check, or recognize faces.

Jessie wisely concluded that she didn’t belong behind the wheel of her car any longer. Losing that precious independence wasn’t an easy thing for her, but she knew that she shouldn’t be on the road, driving herself, grandchildren or friends.

Jessie’s vision also took its toll in church, where she found it almost impossible to read the words of her favorite hymns projected on a large screen. And it became very difficult to recognize the familiar faces of her church friends. That was challenging because Jessie always had a positive and overtly-welcoming personality…ready to greet each friend as they approached her.

Jessie found herself in an unusual position. She was feeling depressed from her loss of independence. But with help from ABVI’s Social Worker, “good genes” (that she inherited from her family) and a strong Faith, she was able to accept her new life situation. Jessie regained her personal strength, and was able to begin looking at positive options and opportunities to remain vital and active.

“Asking for help was the most difficult thing I had to do”, she said. “My whole life, I was used to being helpful for everyone else…but now I needed to depend on others.” To help with her transportation, Jessie began taking cabs and using other paid drivers. Soon church members, family and friends began taking her to appointments and shopping. Then one of Jesse’s granddaughters came to her assistance, by driving her on the afternoons she wasn’t in high school classes. There’s no doubt that Jessie feels most happy spending this extra, quality time with her granddaughter Claire!

With vision enhancement tools and magnification devices from ABVI’s Low Vision clinic, and in-home training with our Rehabilitation professional, Jessie was also able to continue writing checks, reading and moving confidently around her home. The brighter, home lighting suggestions also provided by ABVI have helped greatly. Jessie had an electrician install them in her kitchen, office and bathroom areas to help with sharper contrast and better focus for objects.

Jessie’s future continues to be full of positive opportunities and close relationships. She plans more international travel, saying that her “bucket” contains new places to go. Travel companions will help her enjoy every moment. And of course, her church members are 100% supportive of Jessie. Recently they accepted a “$10 challenge” from their Pastor, and contributed many more of them to ABVI in support of our services.

Jessie commented “I was so impressed with the caring help I’ve received in the past months. And I wish to share my story of being so blessed”.

To learn more about services provided by the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, visit, call us at 616-458-1187, or speak with your eye doctor about a referral.

We help people living with Low Vision or Blindness thrive in a sighted world