"It's just about doing what you can to avoid stopping what you enjoy"

Posted: Thursday 18 July 2019

Keen artist Marlene Jones was diagnosed with macular disease 17 years ago. But the 75-year-old refused to let sight loss steal her love of art and craft – and now she is encouraging others not to give up on the things they love if they are affected.

Marlene said: “It was 3am on a Saturday morning and I woke up with what I thought was a migraine. I was working as a secretary at that time and it wasn’t unusual for me to get them. I could see what looked like lights, so I took some tablets and went back to sleep, thinking it would have passed by the time I woke up again.

“When I did, the lights were still there and there was a big black patch in the middle of my vision in my left eye. I had no idea what it was, so I rang my optician. I was referred to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and was diagnosed with dry age-related macular degeneration.

“Once my initial panic had settled, I thought: ‘Well, okay – I’ve still got the sight in my right eye, I’ll still be able to do things.’ But, about six months later, the same thing started to happen in my right eye.”

Sadly, Marlene’s sight gradually deteriorated and she was registered severely sight impaired four years ago. But she continues to produce paintings, drawing and sketches, and firmly believes it has helped her come to terms with her condition.

She said: “I’ve been continuing to draw and paint because I enjoy it. I have my peripheral vision, so when I sit and paint or draw, I sit sideways on to the canvas and look peripherally at what I am doing. I do have a little bit of my central vision left, so I try my best to use that alongside my peripheral vision. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing. It just takes me a little longer than it used to to complete a piece of work.

“I like to encourage others with macular disease to not stop doing things they enjoy, whether that be an arts or crafts type of thing, or something else. It’s sometimes about finding new ways to do the things we enjoy – I have a very strong magnifying glass which helps me.

“It’s just about doing what you can to avoid stopping what you enjoy and saying, ‘I can’t do this’.”

Photos courtesy of Oswestry and Border Counties Advertizer