A Rotorua woman is hoping to help raise awareness of a chronic disease which nearly stopped her from being able to do what was most important to her.

Macular Degeneration NZ (MDNZ) is hosting a free seminar in Rotorua next Saturday, where local ophthalmologist Dr Neil Murray will share the latest information on treatments and the management of this chronic disease.

Macular degeneration (MD) affects the central vision impacting a person's ability to drive, read, watch television, undertake many hobbies and recognise faces.

Loss of vision impacts on lifestyle and independent ageing, associated with the risks of - falls and fracturing hips, developing depression, inability to access health services, and earlier admission to nursing homes.


Rotorua's Beth Robinson will speak at the seminar. She found out she had macular degeneration in September 2016.

She does crafts and says her husband started to point out that parts of them were crooked.

Then, when she wanted to watch the Wimbledon Championships she could not see that the ball was out.

Beth had an appointment where she received glasses and found out she had lost the sight in the middle of her right eye.

She had injections in her right eye every six weeks but these were stopped in April 2017 as they were not working.

Everything carried on and was going okay until one day when Beth was working at Cantabria Lifecare & Village she started feeling off-colour.

The next day she had a card-making class and was struggling to keep up so just watched. On Friday she stayed at home, and on Saturday, when visiting a nursing home, she struggled to read the hymns.

Beth says she did not think much of it until she drove to church on Sunday, opened the bible, and it was one huge blur.


"I drove home very carefully, put the keys down, and said to my husband, 'That's the last time I will be driving'."

She went to an eye specialist the following Tuesday and found out her left eye had MD too, so began the eye injections and has been having them ever since.

"It was very scary. I can't stress enough how important it is to have your eyes tested."

Beth now has peripheral vision in her right eye, and with the injections and treatment can see in her left eye.

She can drive, though she has not driven since, and can also do the one thing that was important to her -"I can read my bible, it was very important to me".

She says MD affects many day-to-day things, such as pouring tea in to a cup, putting items safely on a bench, and walking down stairs - "I still hit the back of the stairs first to make sure".

"People really need to know about it. A lot of the older people say, 'Oh, I'm getting old', and seem to think it's part of it, but if it's caught in the beginning it can be helped, and could save them because you can go blind.

"I'm 82 - it just means never give up, and always go and seek help and treatment."

Macular Degeneration (MD) is the leading cause of blindness in New Zealand, with one in seven people over 50 years of age having some evidence of MD, and the incidence increases with age.

Many people dismiss the early warning signs of MD, accepting vision loss as a normal part of the ageing process.

Macular Degeneration NZ (MDNZ) is a charitable trust with the vision to reduce the incidence and impact of MD in New Zealand, increase awareness and promote early detection to the 1.5 million 'at risk' New Zealanders.

Information packs will be available on the day at the seminar.

The details
- What: Macular Degeneration Seminar
- When: Saturday, August 31, 10am to 11.30am
- Where: Rotorua Eye Clinic, 71 Fairy Springs Rd
- Register to attend this free seminar: 0800 MACULA (622 852) or email info@mdnz.org.nz