Pic’s Peanut Butter founder Pic Picot, who has lived with macular degeneration much of his life, and his seeing dog Fido. Photo: Supplied.

Pic’s vision not hampered by vision

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When Pic Picot walks into a crowded room he can’t scan people’s faces looking for people he knows.

Despite running a successful, multinational peanut butter business, he can’t look a spreadsheets, or write an email or text by looking at the letters on his phone or computer. He also can’t drive.

Instead, in rooms he will walk up close and look at you out of the side of his eye and simply ask: “Who am I speaking to?”

Instead of typing, he uses voice activation to write his texts and emails. And instead of driving, he walks with his trusty dog Fido who came into his life five years ago when Pic’s macular degeneration got too difficult for him to navigate alone.

“More than anything though, it’s good in business as it has forced me to delegate,” Pic says. “It also helps when you are at a fancy pants business meeting with people in suits and then there is a dog in the corner licking himself.”

Recently Pic was made an ambassador by Macular Degeneration NZ (MDNZ), 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.

MD is the leading cause of blindness in New Zealand, however it is treatable. One in seven people over 50 have some evidence of MD and the incidence increases with age. The condition affects the central vision, impacting on the ability to drive, read, watch television, undertake many hobbies and recognise faces.

Pic was first diagnosed with macular degeneration in his 20s, however, his mother had also had it.

“I first noticed the trouble at night time, looking at lighthouses I had to look at them sideways.”

Then it got worse.

“But my vision won’t disappear altogether, my peripheral vision is pretty good. But I can’t focus enough to read text or recognise faces.”

He says it’s a huge honour to be an ambassador and recommends anyone concerned about their eyes to get them checked.

On Saturday, November 3, MDNZ is hosting a free seminar at 10am at the Rutherford Hotel, where ophthalmologist Dr Antony Suter will share the latest information on treatments and the management of macular degeneration.

To register to attend this free seminar, phone 0800 MACULA (622 852) or email info@mdnz.org.nz