His pale blue eyes stared blankly ahead, his face, studied and still. One might think he wasn’t listening, but the fact that he was so studied and still meant he was listening a great deal more than you or I.
A world without color and sight is a difficult world to be in, but one might say they were blessed in a round about way. When you block out sight you have to rely more on other senses to navigate the world around you. Do I say to wish blindness on yourself? No. Far be it from me to say anyone could wish for blindness, but there is a treasure in shutting out the brightness and busyness of the world around you. This is a lesson my grandfather shared with me, a precocious child who filled every moment of silence with action and noise.
As a child there was a sadness to it. An understanding I couldn’t grasp. To never see the sand sift through my fingers. To never watch a seagull dive into the ocean. To never see the bunker grow increasingly close to shore. To never see the clear blue sky emerge from the mellow colors of sunrise or fade into the vibrant colors of sundown.
There is a certain terror to losing sight that I felt but couldn’t truly understand. How it must have felt as his eyesight grew blurred and dim. A fear as he had to adjust to navigating a world that relies so much on sight. I am sure my grandfather had his times of anger and frustration, but in my eyes, he lost the battle to macular degeneration with grace.
Instead of bitterly fighting it, he took hold of his other senses and honed them to not only survive but thrive in life. He never used it as an excuse to stop being a gentleman. He didn’t cloister himself away, even though his father had been hit by a car he couldn’t see due to the very same disease. No. He lived. He stopped and listened more closely. He took in the beauty of those little sounds we never stop to think of.
He encouraged me to stop and truly hear the beauty. To hear the gull’s scream as it dove. To hear the grass rustle on the dunes. To hear the waves crashing against the bunker’s wall in the far distance. He taught me to be still, if just for a second, and listen. To this day, I still stop. I close my eyes, and I just listen.
This man, my grandfather, never ceased to amaze me. Even though we rarely had the chance to talk and he rarely ‘saw’ me, the once a year he did, he knew my voice – one of 36 grandchildren and several great grandchildren – he couldn’t see me, but still he knew my voice.
Macular Degeneration is especially scary. It’s that elusive unknown entity, and when it is hereditary, it’s no longer there in the distance of age. You are always waiting, wondering if the ax is going to fall. Will it affect you? Will it affect your parent? The reality is there are many unknowns with this disease, even now in 2015. While there is no cure, there are things you can do to help reduce the risk.
One of the ways you can care for your eyes and lower your risk is to eat healthy foods. Dark green, yellow, and orange vegetables are a good dietary start. Eating produce and foods that are high in Vitamins C and E are also considered to be good for eye health. This new cookbook, Eat Right for Your Sight: Simple, Tasty Recipes that Help Reduce the Risk of Vision Loss from Macular Degeneration, focuses on providing recipes that include food ingredients that are good for your eye health, such as the delicious Carrot Cumin Soup I am sharing today.
I was asked if I would share a recipe from this cookbook with you and it was with no hesitation that I said yes, because as you see, this disease has profoundly affected my family. Why did I choose a carrot soup? It’s easy. My second child loves carrots almost as much as life itself. If he could, he would eat them all day long. As soon as I saw this recipe I knew it was the one I had to make.
As I make it I think of my grandfather and I wonder if he liked his carrots. There is no cure for macular degeneration, but now there are treatments and there is research to help give us insight into this disease. And now you see, there is a little truth to that saying your mama always said, “Eat those carrots if you don’t want glasses.” They might not fix all your eye problems, but they do help your eye health overall.
So whip up a bowl of this healthy and delicious soup, and lift a spoon for eye health.
Carrot Cumin Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2½ cups)
- 2½ cups vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons toasted cumin seeds, for garnish
- In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the onion for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté an additional minute. Add the carrots, broth, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Purée the soup with an immersion blender or, working in batches, purée in a blender or food processor until smooth, then return it to the saucepan. Whisk in the lemon juice and yogurt. Season to taste. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the cumin seeds.
- Serving size: 1 cup
- Calories: 178
- Protein: 4 g
- Fiber: 4 g
- Fat: 11 g
- Saturated fat: 3 g
- Sodium: 1,031 mg
- Vitamin A: 19,312 IU
- Vitamin C: 10 mg
- Vitamin E: 3 IU
- Beta-carotene: 9,420 μg
- Lutein and zeaxanthin: 307 μg
- Lycopene: 1 μg
Recipe from Eat Right for Your Sight: Simple, Tasty Recipes that Help Reduce the Risk of Vision Loss from Macular Degeneration, copyright American Macular Degeneration Foundation, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment.
Has macular degeneration affected your family? Share your stories below.
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