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Scottish Fleet/Yorkshire, Week 4: 11 March

I mentioned last year that my right eye has developed a condition called myopic macular degeneration. Basically this means that I’m so shortsighted—before I had cataract surgery my eyes were -11.00 and -12.00 dioptres respectively—that my retinas are stretched so thinly they’re liable to become damaged. And what this means is that in my right eye I’ve developed a blind spot right in the centre of my vision.

Now, let me say immediately that (a) there are many people worse off than me, and (b) most of the time I hardly notice it. My left eye is my leading eye, and that’s holding up fine so far. Most of the time I’m only aware of a slight blurring, which you can replicate at home by keeping both eyes open and holding a piece of clear plastic up in front of one eye: you get the peculiar sensation of things being both in and out of focus at the same time, but it’s no big deal.

It’s straight lines that do my head in. Any series of vertical or horizontal lines—park railings, for instance, or a spreadsheet—bend and distort around the blind spot, as my peripheral vision compensates. It’s as if I’m living my life in an Open University lecture on how black holes warp the light from distant stars. There’s a chart called the Amsler Grid that measures this effect; the scientific term for which is, I believe, “bloody weird”.

Amsler Grid

Well. My (left) eyesight might never deteriorate from here, in which case it’s just a minor inconvenience. But it’s hard not to feel on borrowed time, to an extent: which is why I want to make the most of being able to see as well as I do and knit the ganseys I still have on my to-do list. (There’s only about 20 or so…) This current project is for me, and I plan to wear it a lot. I love the colour, which like all ganseys changes with the ambient light, from bright sky blue to something much darker. With a fair wind behind me I might even finish it this week. (Next up: another Caithness gansey from the Johnston Collection.)

Part of Wick on a sunny day

In parish news, Lynne has sent me photos of a stunning jumper she’s made based on the “Buckie” pattern I knitted for my friend George Bethune a few years ago. Lynne modified the sleeve to an inset sleeve, and used Merino yarn, which just goes to show how well gansey patterns and style can be adapted to suit. Many congratulations to Lynne for a splendid result.

Incidentally, when I said above that other people had it worse than me, this wasn’t false modesty (or any kind of modesty, come to that). I met a man last year with age-related macular degeneration who could no longer read text, and he bore his condition admirably. But, he said, that wasn’t the worst part. Oh really, I said innocently, what’s that? Hallucinations, he said. Out of the corner of his eye he keeps seeing a dwarf climbing in through the window. Of course he knows it’s not real, but that doesn’t stop him seeing it. At which point I thought: a blind spot and a few skewed lines? I’ll settle for that…

6 comments to Scottish Fleet/Yorkshire, Week 4: 11 March

  • Lynne

    Gordon, are you still able to drive now that your eyesight is so ‘wonky’?

    • Gordon

      Hi Lynne, yes I’m passed fit to drive because although one eye is affected, the other is fine. This is why it was a shock when I had my eye test the other year, because I hadn’t really been aware of it! (I guess like most of us, i don’t usually look through one eye at a time. Just as well archivists don’t use telescopes…)

  • Lois

    Ah, I remember the period when I was between eye surgeries for 6 months. I was near sighted in one eye, and far sighted in the other. Worst part was trying to get up and down stairs, never could figure out just where to place my feet.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lois, I can sympathise, I had the same when I had cataract surgery. Drove me mad! The doctors even suggested I try an eyepatch; while it gave me a piratical air, it also gave me a hell of a shock once, when I took it off and couldn’t see out of that eye at all! As if my brain thought, well obviously that eye isn’t needed, and just disconnected it.

  • Jane

    Wonderful gansey Gordon, and just flying along. I am deeply impressed. I can also understand where you are coming from on the eye issue, and I so felt for the man who saw the dwarf, such a nuisense.

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane, and thank you. It’s always good to be reminded that other people are worse off when you feel like complaining, isn’t it? (Not that that ever stops me, of course!)

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