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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Jun. 22, 2011 6 years ago

Play On!

Several years ago, the sight in my good left eye began to falter. Avastin injections into my left eyeball stalled deterioration.
by: Louis Roney Staff Writer

I pulled the car off the road and sat motionless.

With a hand over each eye, I found that my right eye now only had peripheral vision. My left eye was intact.

I phoned my ophthalmologist. In his office, he told me, “You need a retina specialist.”

I went to see the specialist my doctor recommended.

Technicians photographed my retinas extensively.

The doctor explained that my left eye was “wet.”

“Wet” involves the degeneration of the macula accompanied by bleeding that produces blindness.

The right eye was “dry,” meaning it had no signs of hemorrhage, but had slowly degenerated.

“Macular degeneration” is the label for my genetic eye disorder. The macula is concerned with detailed vision, and macular degeneration is the leading source of blindness in the U.S. and Europe, usually occurring in people older than 50.

Several years ago, the sight in my good left eye began to falter. Avastin injections into my left eyeball stalled deterioration.

“Let there be light,” was God’s first decree.

Many times in many opera houses, in many countries, I sang “Samson” — the blinded, biblical, long-haired, low-I.Q. muscleman.

In Saint-Saens’ opera, “Samson et Dalila,” the blinded Samson sings (in French), “See my misery, alas! See my distress.”

Handel’s (in English) operatic Samson sings, “Total eclipse! No sun, no moon! All dark amidst the blaze of noon ….”

As an actor, I had pondered long and hard, imagining how it would be if I were blind.

After I, myself, had macular degeneration and had lost much of my sight, I realized that I was living out poor Samson’s plight.

I hoped evermore that my real-life story would have a better ending than that of the Samsons I had portrayed on stage.

The biblical Samson pushes two temple pillars apart and brings down the roof, killing himself and all the other people within.

Not being able to see clearly, one instinctively walks slower and pays more attention to the ground beneath him.

Three bad falls taught me to be careful.

One’s movements become measured in anticipation of confronting the unseen.

Other kinds of blindness can limit the beauty and productiveness of human life in other ways.

The stubborn mental “blindness” of refusing to accept proven fact can make one stumble as dangerously as one does in total darkness.

Blindness that shuts out logic, leads to thinking without vision.

The ambiguous verb “see” can be used with respect to visual loss and also loss of understanding, e.g., Why didn’t I see that when he was talking to me?

Blindness exists in both real and ideological realms.

The understanding that my public singing of great works was over came to me as a shock, during a performance when I was singing Beethoven. In the middle of the work, my sight faded completely, and I was unable to find my way in the score. I sang through to the end, but I knew then that my performing days were over.

Shortly thereafter, at 76, I sang a solo recital from memory of works I knew well.

Understanding with acceptance is the rational end of all good things human.

Lack of understanding and lack of acceptance are equally futile.


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