The Llama and the German Shepherd
For several months I’d been experiencing loss of facial recognition, especially if the person was in a darker room or had sunlight behind them. The first time it happened I was stunned, and then disoriented. An odd feeling for sure. Then I had to figure out what to say to the person I didn’t recognize. After the second time I got more comfortable with my explanation and found most people to understand.
The other day I took my dog out for a walk and when I got to the top of the driveway I noticed a Llama and a German Shepherd standing on a lawn a few houses down the street. My first thought was what an odd couple to be on our street and then, could this be another variation of a facial recognition disability? On the other hand what if we did have a strange dog wandering around the neighborhood? Safety won the day and we headed back into the house. Inside, I grabbed my binoculars and perhaps you heard me laughing. The llama was a newly installed set of white posts and the German Shepherd was the lower trunk of a tree.
In an effort to understand what was happening to me, I read a number of articles about facial recognition disability as it applies to macular degeneration. Here’s a short description – the brain directs the eye movement in scanning and fixation (the ability to maintain your gaze in a single direction). People with macular degeneration and some other diseases lose the ability to fixate on the internal features of a face – the eyes, nose and mouth. Their eye movements are different than those with normal vision also. There is much research going on about this including paying attention to specific internal features and the use of eye movement control training
However my incident with the Llama and the German Shepherd seems to be the blurring of my central vision as my rods and cones die off as well as color loss and more drusen occurring in my right eye.
At a recent low vision exam at NABA I learned about several new products designed to help me see things at a distance. The first is a pair of MAX TV glasses – hands-free, head-mounted, each eye adjustable glasses perfect for watching TV, bird watching, llama checking or sporting events with a 2.1x magnification. Priced a bit over $100 they are an excellent choice for me. You can find these and many other products at Eschenbach.
One of the things I’m learning is the amount of new research and products that are on the market or in testing for people with low vision. It’s almost a full-time job to keep up with what’s out there. In the next few months I’m considering a huge shift in the focus of this blog. I’ll keep you posted about all of this but for now let’s remember to laugh at some of the adventures we have. ‘Til next time.