Jo Harrison was diagnosed with macular degeneration four years ago but the 89-year-old hasn't let it stop her.

Mrs Harrison first noticed her eyesight was deteriorating five years ago but "pushed along for a while".

"About four years ago I realised I couldn't see the road signs."

She went to get her eyes checked and was told she had macular degeneration.


Mrs Harrison said she acknowledged nothing could be done for it and took on a "you've got to live with it" approach. She said she is not as fast as she used to be and has to concentrate more.

"It's frustrating more than anything, you learn to accept it. It comes on slowly, so that makes a difference."

Mrs Harrison can't see anything direct, but has peripheral vision. She said things in the distance are blurry, and while she can make out people, she can't see their features.

Mrs Harrison was referred to the Blind Foundation and she said it had been a real help.

She said the foundation put her through her paces with all the different handheld magnifying glass options and she picked out one with interchangeable lenses to buy.

As well, it set her up with a large free-standing magnifying glass and an audio book player at home. She receives free audio books in the mail.

She also got raised bumps put on buttons of appliances such as the microwave in her kitchen and was supplied with a "visually impaired person" badge.

She has been talked into an IPad. "Siri [Apple's electronic personal assistant] and I have become friends."

The foundation's "get togethers" are a highlight for the 89-year-old, who really likes the social aspect. "That's where I've got to know so many great people."

She said around 10 people usually come along and they have morning teas, games mornings or lunches regularly.

Mrs Harrison said without the Blind Foundation she would find it very difficult. "I wouldn't be without them, they're great."

Aside from their help, she gets up to six dinners a week delivered and makes her own breakfast and lunch.

She has lived in her Kensington home for the past 10 years and said she won't leave on account of her eyesight, it would have to be another serious health issue.

"My aim is to stay here and I can manage that with them [Blind Foundation] and my girl I'm sure."

Her "girl" is the woman who comes in to clean her house and keep her gardens tidy.

Everyday an average of three New Zealanders register with the Blind Foundation for support with blindness or sight loss.

This week is Blind Week, and a street collection will be held today and Saturday or donations can be made online at