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Life goes on for Cowley despite failing eyesight


New book on the way


Popular Featherston writer Joy Cowley has sold her precious black Mini Cooper because of deteriorating eyesight.

Although many would consider giving up driving a hard decision, it was just something she planned around, Cowley said.

She needs to travel to Wellington every five weeks to have an injection into the back of her eyes for macular degeneration – a condition which causes fuzzy or distorted vision.

It is the most common form of vision loss with one in seven people over the age of 60 people affected in New Zealand.

“It doesn’t hurt. My sight is a bit cloudy for the rest of the day after an injection, then it clears,” Cowley said.

The injections, which cost $450 each, allowed her to keep on with her life.

She was planning her next novel, gardening, and looking after her husband, Terry Cole, who had suffered two strokes and needed 24-hour care.

The loss of sight started last year. She used to go to the shops and see lots of people she knew but suddenly she couldn’t recognise anyone.

Her sight is now just below 30 per cent. She said on a large computer screen, the font size had gradually increased from 24 points to 36.

“It won’t be long before it moves to 48,” she said.

Although Cowley’s sight had deteriorated, it did not diminish her life.

“It is like when you are trying to find something at the back of the cupboard, you often close your eyes to help you see. It’s a bit like that.”

Her son, James, bought the Mini Cooper for her 81st birthday last year, Cowley said.

“It was wonderful driving it but suddenly my sight started to go.”

It was a hard decision as she had wanted a Mini for as long as she could remember.

“All the other cars I had were just wagons.”

The Mini was sold to a mother of five, whose children had grown up reading Cowley’s books.

“I am so pleased – the Mini was special to me and it’s special to her. I feel quite comforted about it.”

A highlight for Cowley this year was Featherston Booktown.

“The Mother’s Day afternoon was extraordinary, a real high tea with three-tiered cake stands.

“Kate de Goldi interviewed Leah McFall, Dame Fiona Kidman and me. We are all good friends – it was a very special afternoon.”

The idea of writing another book had become a lot stronger since the eye condition, she said, and she had found her sense of touch and hearing had become more sensitive.

But that increased sensitivity would not help with her hobby of woodworking. Last year, she decided to cut a round of wood for a bowl and realised she couldn’t see the bandsaw.



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