I need to share something with you, dear Reader. It might affect this blog. It might not, of course, but I think you need to be warned.
I’m blessed with pretty much excellent physical health, as you may realise if you’re also a reader of my other blog here. Mental health? Well, it’s far better these days than a few years ago, but that’s not what this is about, so we won’t go there. I’m 61 (yeah, I find that hard to believe too, thanks!) and along with early morning aches and pains, I’d not paid too much attention to my first hour of the day being, how shall we say, a bit out of focus. For a while now, particularly early in the mornings, things have looked a bit fuzzy at times. I’d also had a bit of trouble in the last five years or so with occasional bouts of double vision. My optician had put that down to dehydration. I could go along with that – for an athlete, my hydration routine is rubbish most of the time.
As a photographer, I’m pretty good at keeping the prescription for my glasses up to date. My last full review and new varifocal lenses were both done in 2013, and I was recently due replacements. So, I wasn’t worried about the fuzzies. New specs would take care of it.
I was completely unprepared for what happened next. My visit to the optician was followed by a referral to “geriatric opthalmologist” (specialist subject: ageing-related defects of the eye) and some bad news. I am in the early stages of a condition known as Fuchs Endothelial Dystrophy. See here for a simple, non-scary guide. Put simply, I’m slowly losing my sight.
Now, how slow is “slowly”? What are the major benchmarks? Is it a linear progressive thing, or does it develop in irregular leaps? Answers: well, it all depends on the individual and it’s impossible to generalise (much). It can be an inherited thing. No record of the like in my family, from what (little) I know. Is it serious? Potentially, yes. Treatable? Er, no. Corneal transplants are the usual remedy when things are bad enough.
My reaction has been a bit like it was when I was first diagnosed with clinical depression. “Who? Me? Get away with you.” But the signs and symptoms are clear and unmistakable. I’m losing my sight.
To a photographer in particular, that’s a bit of a hurdle, to say the least. Autofocus systems or not, I need to see what it is I’m shooting, at least as well as the cameras do. And then, of course, there’s all the other “quality of life” stuff. I confess those initially played second fiddle to all my thoughts about how this might affect me as a photographer.
Whether it’s two years or twenty, a slow fade, or a rapid defocussing, no one can say. Therefore, it’s business as usual, and I’ll not be mentioning the subject again, unless or until I perhaps have no choice.
But now you know. Thanks.