When Jean Wood was looking at pictures on her wall, she knew something was not right with her eyes.
So she did the sensible thing and booked herself an appointment with her optician, who soon confirmed she had macular degeneration.
The 87-year-old from Chorley says: “Around seven years ago, I was looking at pictures on my wall and they were not square. They were broken and had parts missing, so I wanted to know what was wrong with my eyes. I went to see my optician and she knew straight away what it was and referred me to Royal Blackburn Hospital. I was going every month for a couple of years for injections.
“I had six injections in my right eye and that has stabilised. However, I am losing my sight in my left eye, which has dry macular degeneration, and I have had one injection in that eye.
“I am coping quite well but I can’t see anything directly. I can’t see what I am eating in front of me but my peripheral vision is okay. I use magnifiers and have a daylight lamp.
“It I amazing what I can see. But it is not a thing you can accept easily.
“I try not to let it get me down as it is a waste of time. There is nothing that can be done, so I have to accept it. But it is not being able to do my hobbies that I miss the most.”
The mother-of-four, who lives in sheltered accommodation in Chorley, admits she is coping well during lockdown, with regular phone calls from her family, as well as sight loss advisors from Galloway’s.
She says: “I see my daughter once a week, as she is the only person allowed in to bring me shopping. She also orders my prescriptions and sets up my medication for the week.
“I have hot meals from Wiltshire Farm Foods, so that is my main meal for the day. I have been ordering food from them for about four or five years as I found I was cutting my fingers when chopping vegetables. This service is especially helpful now and my family know I have a decent meal every day.
“My family ring me of course, and sight loss advisors and volunteers from Galloway’s in Chorley also call me to see how I am each week. I have nice chats about what I like to do to keep busy and I talked about my love of old films and musicals.
“It is nice having the weekly phone call and support from Galloway’s, knowing I am able to ask for help if I am struggling.
“I have other friends I have made from the charity’s social groups who also ring me. It makes me feel I have got a lot of friends. All this helps to make me feel better and helps me put up with the social isolation and lockdown.
“I do bits of jobs in the morning and I get quite a bit of exercise by going up and down three sets of stairs within the sheltered accommodation.
"I cannot see in front of me, so I rely on my peripheral vision. I rarely encounter anyone outside and if I do, I just cross over the road. I am actually fitter now than before lockdown.
“I like to have something to watch or listen to. I especially like watching Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. I do what I can to make myself feel good.
“I do miss going to the craft group every week at Galloway’s, as I enjoy the social side of it all.”
Jean adds she went shopping for the first time this week and was pleased with the support she received from staff at Morrisons, in Brooke Street, Chorley.
She says: "There was no queue and I spoke to a member of staff and told them I am partially sighted and was not able to see where things were. I only had a small list so one of the shop assistants walked round with me and found my items. That was really good as if I didn't have anyone I would have been stuck. I would not do a big shop as my daughter does that, but it is handy knowing I can go to pick up a few things."
But Jean admits the hardest part of lockdown is not seeing her family, including her 12 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
She says: “I can’t see my family. I usually have a big family get together where we go for a meal around three times a year. It was my birthday earlier on in lockdown and I would have taken everyone out for a meal but I couldn’t do that this year.
“I personally don’t worry about getting Coronavirus but I am worried about my family. My daughter, who comes here with the shopping, works in a care home and my other daughter has COPD. I haven’t seen anything like this in my life.”
For more information on age-related macular degeneration visit: https://www.galloways.org.uk/amd