Interview: Deidre Hall’s Mother’s Vision Loss Draws Awareness to Wet AMD
Hall’s mindful advice could save your eyesight.
There’s a reason Deidre Hall (Dr. Marlena Evans, Hattie Adams) is still a fan favorite after more than 40 years on Days of our Lives. She’s a talent who uses her voice to help others based on her own personal experiences.
With February being Low Vision Awareness Month, Hall is teaming up with a new campaign, Look To Your Future, to draw awareness to the signs and symptoms of wet age-related macular degeneration (Wet AMD). She watched her mother lose her eyesight to the condition because treatments were not available at the time. Hall wants her fans to know that vision care is just as important as the rest of your physical and mental health. Wet AMD affects more women than men and it’s the leading cause of vision loss in people over 65. She is staying on top of her vision as a result because her own genetic risk for Wet AMD is three-to-four-times higher because of her family history. “We have 1.5 million people with Wet AMD in the United States in alone. That’s a huge number. What would you do without? Would you do without your eyes or would you want to not be able hear or not be able speak or not be able walk? Hands down, I must not lose my eyesight,” Hall told Soaps.com recently. “I think it’s the quintessential connector to life.”
Hall explained some of the symptoms her mother was suffering from at the time when her family began to realize this was something more than vision loss due to aging.
“She was noticing blind spots, hazy vision and washed-out colors, which are all symptoms of Wet AMD and they are not normal signs of aging,” she explained. “We knew what was going on, but unfortunately, there wasn’t a treatment at the time. Now, we have many treatments that are highly successful and in some cases, can roll back the eye damage. It’s important to make your health a priority.”
The most challenging part for Hall’s family was watching her mother lose the ability to enjoy her favorite hobbies.
“Reading had to go away and she loved playing bridge. We bought her a reader, a machine that magnifies the page and puts it onto a large screen,” Hall shared. “So she was able to read for a while with the help of a reader. As I go through my life, I realize how tough that must have been for her.”
In addition, her dad was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, so it impacted her mother’s ability to care for her husband. It’s a part of her mother’s Wet AMD story that Hall still thinks about.
“When my dad had Alzheimer’s he would wander away and with my mom’s Wet AMD, she couldn’t go and find him,” she explained. “The stress of living with someone who wasn’t quite there was enormously difficult and painful. I think that made her own journey a little harder than it needed to be.”
Hall has made wellness a priority since she knows how precious good health is based on the experiences of parents. She is committed to working out every day, staying out of the sun and making nutritious food choices. She’s also focused on her mental health and surrounds herself with things that keep her happy.
“I love going to church. I find that replenishing is something I do every week. I meditate. I spend time with friends,” Hall shared. “There is nothing that can replace a good friend — someone you can share with, cry with, laugh with and commiserate with and travel with. Our women friends are the gold standard.” Those positive vibes carries right over to the Days of our Lives set, where she appreciates the work the cast and crew do every day. “We are a family over there. We work so hard over there every day and we do it without a safety net,” she said. “You can’t produce an hour show without the help and support of the crew. It’s a full battery of professionals who put out that show every single day.” That includes making sure the younger cast members are taken care of as well. Hall and some of the other Days veterans are mentors to them on the set. “I think it’s smart never to give advice,” Hall laughed. “They sometimes arrive on stage not knowing how to find their light or not knowing how to hit a mark, so our job as the veterans is to take the time with those younger people and teach them the ropes. We work at an incredibly breakneck schedule. What we do is the impossible every single day, so the more we help our newest cast members manage all of that, the better everyone is on the show.”
The incredible Days of our Lives environment is something she doesn’t take for granted. It’s been such an impactful part of Hall’s personal and professional life.
“I love it so much. I did Y&R on and off for a year or two, always having my nose against the glass, I wanted to be part of a family [as a full-time cast member],” she summed up. “When Days came along, it was a gift and I cherish it. I never lose sight of it. It’s the happiest place.”