It is unusual to see a wave the size of a mountain on the horizon, but that’s exactly what now retired north coast fisherman Denis Sutton saw back in 2014 as he was preparing for another day of mullet fishing. Even more unusual was that the wave shifted on the horizon every time Denis moved.
In fact what Denis was seeing were changes taking place at the back of his right eye, which were threatening his sight, and these symptoms had been with him for a few days.
“A couple of nights before, when I was logging into my computer, I’d noticed the lines on the screen curved up at one end. I thought maybe it was a blood vessel that had burst or something and it would go away… it came on so quickly; to be honest I was a bit frightened,” said Denis.
“The next day my wife Joy was at me to see someone about it, but me being me, I thought it would right itself.”
Fortunately, Denis saw an advert in the local paper for Macular Disease Foundation Australia and decided to call.
After Denis described his symptoms, the first thing he was told was 'you’re not going fishing today; you’ve got to see an optometrist immediately”. Denis wasn’t keen to follow this instruction as he didn’t want to let the fishing crew down. In the end though, an appointment was made.
“Once I’d been seen by my optometrist in Macksville, the same thing happened. I was told, “you’ve got to get to Coffs Harbour (50km away) for treatment today’, I wasn’t given a choice,” said Denis.
These days Denis admits it was just as well that he followed orders. “I had my first treatment for wet macular degeneration in Coffs Harbour that afternoon. A few months later, and once I’d had a couple of treatments, my ophthalmologist told me I was very lucky. I’d have been blind in that eye if I hadn’t seen him when I did.”
Instead, with regular treatment, Denis has still had great vision and this has allowed him to enjoy his retirement to the full.
“Once I’d had a couple of treatments, my ophthalmologist told me I was very lucky. I’d have been blind in that eye if I hadn’t seen him when I did.”