Mary’s AMD story

Sight saved for creative Guildford resident

Mary Blackwell who lives in Guildford is receiving sight-saving treatment at her local specialist eye hospital.

Mary, age 78, went for a regular eye test at her optometrist and when it was found she simply could not read one of the tests she had previously managed she was immediately referred to Optegra Eye Hospital Surrey.

A series of checks revealed she was suffering from Wet Age-related Macular Degeneration in both eyes, a condition which can quickly lead to blindness if left untreated.

Mary, who loves to travel and enjoys creative hobbies, was shocked to learn she could lose her sight if she did not commit to have her now bi-monthly injections.  She says:

“I have worn glasses for reading since my twenties and as I got older began to wear them all the time.  But I had little idea what was afoot when I first arrived at Optegra, so it was frightening to learn the seriousness of the condition I had but knew little about; however my consultant at Optegra, Mr Mohamed, was very kind and helpful.  He explained everything in great detail and, like all the Optegra staff, was totally supportive”.

Travel is in Mary’s blood.  She grew up in Rhodesia and, after her marriage, went to Malawi, living there for 20 years until her husband retired and they moved to South Africa. Since then she has lived in France but has recently returned to England and now lives in Guildford in a home she and her late husband invested in 30 years ago. Although not finding it as easy as it used to be she still likes to travel, which is perhaps fortunate as her children and grandchildren live in Canada and the USA!

Mary first became interested in papier mâché work when she was teaching, but in the course of developing this interest into a practical hobby she discovered how much more could be done with card and paper, even to making full size furniture. At one point, she went to Zimbabwe to teach the craft to a group of men.  She says there were desperate shortages of everything at that time – only deaths and, to a lesser extent, births were in abundance – so even finding the card and paper to work with was difficult.

“I asked the men what they would most like to make and they replied ‘cots and coffins’. Oh! I had never made either before but we soon found the best way: that’s the fun of this hobby – there’s not much one needs to know before getting started.”

Mary is a very creative person and her many other interests include gardening, crochet, knitting and reading and she enjoys being a member of a walking group. Her eye condition is now treated with regular injections, and she is immensely grateful that this treatment is available from Optegra which has helped to save her sight.