"It's only now that I have seen the impact macular disease has on people"

Posted: Friday 20 January 2023

Denise Lewis

A retired ophthalmic nurse said it wasn’t until she began to volunteer with a local Macular Society support group that she realised the true impact macular disease has on many people’s lives. 

Denise, 60, treated countless patients in her 13 years at the Cardiff Eye Unit, University Hospital of Wales. She said: “When I was a nurse around people with macular degeneration, you didn’t take on board the person’s life with the condition. The group has shown me what life is like with macular degeneration and there are people with different conditions at different stages. They are an absolute inspiration, the way they carry on and make the most of what they can.” 

Denise, who started running a local support group after her retirement, helps bring people together who are going through different stages and severities of sight loss. The group helps reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation experienced by many after a diagnosis.  

But, despite seeing people with macular disease every day in her working life, she admits she’d never considered the many ways it can affect someone’s life.  

She said: “It sounds blunt but you’re just doing your job. It was getting people’s injections done. You would see one person then get the next one in. It was like a conveyer belt system so you didn’t get involved in the emotional side of things. 

“It’s only now I’m outside of the hospital environment and working with people, through the group, that I have seen the impact macular disease has on people.” 

She added: “Every day is a learning environment and the people in my group have just taught me so much.” 

Denise added that “making friends with people,” was the best part of volunteering, as she helps fight the impact of isolation.

“Our members are increasing all the time, some people there pre-date me but I address them as my macular family. They are such a lovely bunch of people and I think it’s the friendship and connection and doing my best I can for them to bring them together once a month.” 

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