‘I couldn’t see the centre of the words, it was scary’

The effect of cortisone injections into Anne Moloney’s eyes, which are numbed at the time, is not unlike watching a black wax blob in the liquid of a lava lamp.

“That’s what I see when the liquid is injected. It breaks down in a few days to little floaters and gives the retina a boost,” Anne says.

Anne, 60, from Model Farm Rd, Cork City, needs the injections to maintain some level of vision in her eyes which are affected by diabetic macular retinopathy, an eye disease caused by changes in retinal blood vessels that can affect people with diabetes.

Anne developed gestational diabetes 28 years ago. The hope was that diet and exercise would keep it under control.

However, an accident that damaged her back put paid to the exercise, her weight crept up, and medication levels for diabetes increased.

In Jan 1999, in need of new glasses, she went for an eye test. The optometrist noticed retinal changes.

The following September, when trying to read, she realised she could only see the start and end of the words.

“I couldn’t see the centre of the words. It was very peculiar and scary.”

Anne went to see an optometrist and within a week, was referred to a consultant ophthalmologist, who started laser work on her eyes within two hours.

“I was told I had serious damage, we didn’t even know if the laser treatment would work,” Anne says.

It was also around this time that Anne had to begin twice-daily insulin injections to control her blood sugar levels.

The laser treatment continued every few months for a year.

Then in 2003, the cortisone injections started. They don’t suit everyone, but they suited Anne. The cortisone improves her vision for a period, so she crams in as much sewing as she can on those days.

Patchwork is a passion and Anne developed ways around the challenges of limited vision to continue doing what she loves.

She also gave a six-week course in making greeting cards last year on behalf of the National Council for the Blind.

There have been challenges. Eye disease robbed her of the ability to drive. She agonised for a while about how she looked, whether food was being properly prepared, things most of us take for granted.

Eventually she adopted the philosophy of “I can see today”.

She has had falls, and now uses a white cane, but has learned to adapt to a degree she would never have thought possible.

Husband Finbarr is a fantastic help.

Her message for everyone is to have their eyes tested by a specialist at least once. “A national screening programme would be a godsend,” she says.

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