Robert’s chat with ChatGPT about his “wet macular degeneration”.

“I do not see myself as a candidate for possible new medical therapy technologies,
to restore, or even improve my eyesight, in my lifetime.  I hope I am wrong”.

Robert, about his wet macular degeneration, March 2023.

“Despite advances in medical technology, many blindness conditions cannot be cured,
and blindness remains a major cause of disability worldwide”.
ChatGPT, AI, March 2023.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

“Juvenile Amusements” by Samuel Arnold, Pub. 1810.


The very first time I was diagnosed with “wet macular degeneration”, I had never heard of that before. Now, 30 years later, I have acquired the necessary credentials, experience and information to ask pertinent questions about wet MD to an online artificial intelligence platform, being ChatGPT, AI.  Refer to my PDFs numbered 1 to 6 below.

The only person who truly understands the impact of permanent vision loss, whole or part, is the person who actually experiences that trauma.  My questions to the AI are from the perspective of a person who knows and understands the consequences of severe vision loss.  A better understanding of all issues means developing better coping mechanisms for dealing with wet MD.  This posting may be of assistance to others who have had similar experiences and have unanswered questions.

How has this posting been created and developed?  With the dedicated assistance of my wife Gillian, of course!  I dictate the questions to Gillian, who then types it into the AI question box provided, hits the enter button, then the AI responds with the answer, which Gillian then reads to me.  Depending on the answer received, more delving questions can be asked.



Disclaimer 19  March 2023
Robert’s extract conversations with ChatGPT, AI,
relating to his online posting about his “wet macular degeneration”.
Always consult your professional registered health specialists, if in any doubt.
The evaluation of the merit, accuracy, bias and limitations of the AI responses
to my questions, is left to the individual reader.
PDF documents, numbered 1 to 6, are to be read in conjunction with this online posting.
Caveat emptor applies.


To view your selected PDF, click on the blue underlined pages link for each numbered section.


Synopsis summaries of Robert’s whole chat.

The meaning of GPT in ChatGPT.

4 pages


Glimpses of blindness in the World’s religions and blindness as a punishment in history.

Psychological impacts of blindness and permanent severe vision loss.

7 pages


Psychological and coping mechanisms for permanent vision loss.

Modern assistive technology that can help.

6 pages


Distinguish between macular and peripheral vision.

The role of eccentric vision.

9 pages


Historical reference to wet macular degeneration (MD).

Robert’s personal experience with wet MD.

An explanation of genetic predisposition.

Distinguish between wet and dry MD.

12 pages


Regenerative medicine ~ future possible treatments for eye diseases.

Gene and stem cell therapies and CRISPR.

Guesstimate future timelines for possible cures.

8 pages




Reference links to Robert’s previous postings on macular degeneration:

Severe end-stage wet Macular Degeneration + an Elgato Stream Deck.

My use of the iPhone 12 with severe end-stage Macular Degeneration.

Six years in the murk, but not lights out.

Some experiences of a Land Surveyor with Macular Degeneration.

The regeneration of Macular Degeneration current interim report card 2013.


Losing Sight, Finding Hope ~ YouTube video, 21 March 2023, Source – AMDF.


Passio audacia periculum successum affert

Robert’s chat with ChatGPT about his “post-stroke chronic fatigue”.

“But the Wheel that does the squeaking, is the one that gets the grease.”
Josh Billings, American humorist, “The Kicker”, 1870.

“Damage to specific areas of the brain can affect the body’s ability to regulate energy levels.”
ChatGPT, AI, February 2023.

“……by his gift of creation he enjoys the catharsis, the purging of pity and terror, which Aristotle tells us is the object of art.”
W. Somerset Maugham, “The Summing Up”, Chapter 50, first Published 1938.
EBook, Project Gutenberg, 17 May 2016.


In early May 2021, Robert’s health deteriorated markedly in an instant.

Medical staff at two NSW regional hospitals immediately diagnosed Robert with an Ischemic stroke. His classic symptoms were a sudden significant weakness in his right arm, hand and lower leg, which gradually became worse.

Despite a professionally managed rehabilitation program, Robert’s health status only improved marginally.  His own perception being, that he is now only 35% of his former self prior to his stroke.

After experiencing 22 months of continual post-stroke chronic fatigue, Robert developed a reasonable expectation to seek out an alternative opinion, as to the reasons why his body was constantly fatigued. He sought the opinion of ChatGPT.

In its simplest format, ChatGPT defines itself as “an Artificial Intelligence (AI) language model that talks like a human and can answer questions, suggest ideas, and help with tasks.”

My critical purpose was to undertake a deeper questioning of ChatGPT, to try to establish an improved rationale as to why my current long-term chronic fatigue, together with poor mobility and balance, is still continuing, 22 months post-stroke.


Robert in hospital with Physiotherapist, attempting his first walk 7 days after his stroke.

Constraints and limitations.


Current 2023 online enquiry platforms, inclusive of ChatGPT, AI, certainly do not replace practising registered health professionals.

Regarding the above, in my discussions with this AI, the following disclaimer was offered – “maintain open communication with your healthcare team and advocate for yourself to ensure the best possible outcomes.”

I adopt the pragmatic position that a better understanding  of my personal health condition, may result in the possible chance of an improved recovery, being whole or part.  Additionally, my experiences in this matter may benefit others, who find themselves in similar circumstances.

I now provide for the interested reader, extracts of my long question and answer discussions with ChatGPT, primarily focussing on the issue of impacts of an Ischemic stroke and associated long-term chronic fatigue.  Refer to my 7 page PDF.

Click here to access the PDF.


The evaluation of the merit and accuracy of the AI responses to my questions, is left to the individual reader.


Robert, aged 74, Winter, 14 months post-stroke ~ photo by Gillian.

Robert’s reverse mantra ~


The person closest to the problem, is the person, necessarily, who cannot solve that problem.


Robert and Gillian, 22 months post-stroke at Coorabell ~ photo by Mikey, 21 February 2023.



Surfing daze, Robert at NSW South Coast point break, entry cove, winter 1998 ~ photo by Gillian.

A distraction for personal equilibrium.


From the age of five to my early twenties, I lived within a short walking distance from a wind-swept surf beach.  Over these years, I developed a variety of surfing skills, culminating in becoming  an accomplished, average longboard surfer.  Then, I effectively stopped, I had other obligations and priorities.

In my very late forties, because of an accumulation of a major health trauma and other significant stressors at that time, I made the decision to take up longboard surfing again, as a distraction, to try to obtain more equilibrium in my life.

As the “come-back kid”, my renewed surfing experiences allowed me to intimately enjoy the sea and the surf again, giving me a welcome sense of a better mindset, together with a much needed improved level of physical fitness.

What about right now, 2023.  My current two primary health issues and my age effectively prevent me from physically surfing, as I had done in my former years.  I no longer surf, but I am still able to capture the primal benefits of that past experience, by being with the ocean, the surf and the off-shore wind, holding up the green face of a breaking wave, in spirit.

I now use my memory to relive my deep connection with my surfing daze, as my go-to place to seek comfort, calm and equilibrium – my sort of meditation, to alleviate my health demons.


Robert surfing uncrowded NSW South Coast point break, winter storm surf, 1998 ~ photo by Gillian.


Special acknowledgement and thanks:

To my son Sam and his family, for their caring support to a sometimes complex patient, throughout my post-stroke period.  No doubt, Sam has developed his own personal fatigue, enduring our long phone conversations.

Without my wife Gillian’s encouragement and persistent support, clear critical editing and patience with me, this whole blog post “ain’t gonna happen”.   Gillian has been my confidante and pal for 52 years.

Link References:

Stroke – Post Stroke Fatigue, Maurizio Paciaroni and Monica Acciarresi, Pub. 14 June 2019.

ChatGPT, AI, entry website, February 2023.

OpenAI platform website 2023.


Feeling better now Robert?


Robert and Gillian, 1972.

The Land Survey Misclose ~ a perfection of plane trigonometry and coordinate geometry, as applied to cadastral survey practice.

For Gillian ~
Who really wanted to know
And was there from the beginning.


The land survey close computation is fundamental to the development of the cadastre.  A primary element of the Torrens Title land system is the inclusion of a title diagram reference in the issued Certificate of Land Title.  In New South Wales, a plan of  survey of the land parcel prepared by a Registered Land Surveyor, meets the requirements of a title diagram.

The external perimeter boundaries of a land parcel are delineated in a plan of survey by lines, each line being annotated with a bearing and a distance.  The accuracy and correctness of these stated measurements can be mathematically confirmed by the undertaking of a survey close computation.


.A diagram example of a plan of survey showing a green triangle shaped land parcel, comprising three ground points, with bearing and distance measurements detailed on the three red perimeter boundary lines.  These red lines may also be referred to as a closed traverse loop.


In the mid-1960s, closed traverse computations were undertaken with the use of printed trigonometrical tables and a mechanical calculator.  The introduction of scientific programmable RPN calculators in the early 1970s, took the tedium out of the survey close computation process.  Current personal computer technology again dramatically improved survey computations through the use of purpose COGO and CAD software programs.

Increased computing power for land survey computations, lead to a move away from grid subdivision layouts to curvilinear land developments, blending in more with the topography.

Precision field measurement of lines between ground points, are accurately measured with modern total station instrumentation.  Angles or bearings and distances are measured electronically.  Distances measured are slope distances, subsequently reduced to the horizontal, and observed bearings are directions of lines relative to a map grid north.

For further reference reading, see my previously published article titled ~ Surveying computations and the land boundary Surveyor.

How the survey close computation works

A point position on a plane surface may be defined by rectangular coordinates, being an East and North coordinate value.  For Pt. 1 in the diagram, coordinates East 500.000 metres and North 500.000 metres, are arbitrarily set as the start point values for this three line traverse.

The bearing and distance of each traverse line, through trigonometry, can be transformed into an orthogonal North – South axis and East – West axis distance component.  View the three blue triangles edged in black in the diagram.

Computing N/S and E/W components for line 2 to 3
SIN 137° 10′ 20″ x 115.865 = 0.679797 x 115.865 = 78.764 ~ Easting component
COS 137° 10′ 20″ x 115.865 = – 0.733400 x 115.865 = – 84.975 ~ Southing component


Using these calculated N/S and E/W distance components, coordinates can be computed for all points sequentially, clockwise around the traverse loop.

Coordinates calculation for Pt. 2 ~ E 500.000 + 128.856 = E 628.856 ~ N 500.000 + 154.909 = N 654.909
Coordinates calculation for Pt. 3 ~ E 628.856 + 78.764 = E 707.620 ~ N 654.909 – 84.975 = N 569.934
Coordinates calculation back to start Pt. 1 ~ E 707.620 – 207.620 = E 500.000 ~ N 569.934 – 69.934 = N 500.000


The correctness and accuracy of the measured  traverse loop can be checked by the comparison of the original starting coordinates, with coordinates generated sequentially through the traverse back to the initial starting point.  The traverse misclose is the difference between the initial coordinates and final coordinates back to the starting point, generated through the traverse.  For this traverse, the misclose is E 0.000 and N 0.000.

A typical “real life” survey misclose for the traverse loop, as shown in the diagram, would be of the order of about 0.025 metres.  This is conventionally expressed as the ratio of about 1 : 21,450, which meets the criteria for a rural land boundary survey.  The ratio represents the misclose related to the traverse loop perimeter.


A screenshot of a DOS based survey close computation, PC software vintage about 1990, showing the traverse computation close of the red sided triangle.


Screenshot from CDS Version 2.3 software, 2011, showing listing output for the red triangle traverse diagram.


Screenshot of the HP 15c Scientific RPN Programmable Calculator, first available in about 1983.

HP 15c RPN programmable calculator, old technology at its best.  Find as a PDF attachment, my instructions in the use of a HP 15c in undertaking a survey close traverse computation, together with the necessary program steps to be inputted in the HP 15c, to enable the running of this Survey Close program.

Something for future consideration ~ the mathematics of a triangle on a curved surface, as applied to the astronomical triangle.  Watch this blog.


Under my gentle supervision and direction, Gillian road tested all the necessary survey computations in the preparation of this article, as well as undertaking all the transcriptions.  Well done GFP.  Gillian absorbed and learnt a lot, but no exams required !

Special thanks to Sam, our computer guru, who introduced us to VIRTUAL BOX, which enabled the use of Windows XP in a macOS Monterey environment.  This permitted the running of my old land survey software on an iMac PC.


Foxall, H.G., Handbook for Practising Land and Engineering Surveyors, Pub. 1957, NSW Institution of Surveyors, Sydney.

CDS Professional Solutions, Civil Design & Survey software, CDS 2.3, March 2011.

Mackie, J.B., The Elements of Astronomy for Surveyors, Pub. 7th edition 1971, Charles Griffin & Co., London.

HP 15c  Scientific RPN Calculator app, Apple macOS Monterey, App Store.

Triangle Solver app, designed for iPad and iPhone, iOS 9.0 or later, App Store.


Time before ~

An elated and exhausted Gillian walking out of a rural survey job in the Byron Hinterland.  Note the extendable prism pole, holding an attached mini reflecting prism, with the Sokkia Total Station instrument in the left corner foreground.  Again, Gillian at her surveying best. Photo taken by Robert.

Robert’s malaga fa’aSamoa ~ the initial establishment of a geodetic surveyed control traverse network over the islands of Upolu and Savaii, 1983 – 1985.

An Island Landfall
28 July 1888

“The first experience can never be repeated.
The first love, the first sunrise, the first South Sea island,
are memories apart and touched a virginity of sense.”

Robert Louis Stevenson
In the South Seas


The large high islands of Savaii and Upolu, known as Western Samoa in 1985, are separated by the smaller islands of Apolima and Manono, located in the Apolima Straits.

On my iPhone, Siri advises me that Apia, Samoa, is located 3,944 kilometres as the crow flies from Coorabell.


It was the most interesting of times.  It was the most challenging and testing of times.  And certainly worth revisiting with the scraps of evidence that I have still got left in 2022.  My survey work in Samoa has to be considered in the context of that time period, with no internet, no modern precision GPS technology, no mobile phones, personal computers in their infancy, snail mail,  and no broadcast television in Apia.

During the period 1983 to 1985, I worked as Lead Project Geodetic Surveyor, Department of Lands and Surveys, Apia, Western Samoa, under the Australian Staffing Assistance Scheme (ASAS) and Australian Development Assistance Bureau (ADAB).  Following strict Samoan cultural protocols during the field survey phases, I worked with a variety of Samoan Departmental staff to complete my involvement with this project.

My Brief, as determined by Governments’ Memorandum of Understanding. The supervision and execution of a circum-insular traverse of the two main islands of Western Samoa and the direction of the adjustment of the overall scheme. To establish a survey control network for Western Samoa which will serve as an accurate base for future mapping.”

Proposed uses of this surveyed geodetic control network – survey ground control for topographic mapping by photogrammetry, for the consideration of  the correct mathematical determination of  Western Samoa’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), for hydrographic mapping, for scientific purposes,  for the on-going training of Graduate Samoan Surveyors, and for the basis of the establishment of an integrated survey grid with the cadastre of Western Samoa.

Outlook from coastal road on Upolu looking towards the sea.


The survey field work for the control traversing, with measured lines of up to 12 kilometres plus to a bank of 9 circular reflecting prisms, was undertaken in 3 basic stages.  Firstly – reconnaissance, secondly – marking geodetic control stations on the ground with minor vegetation clearing if necessary, and thirdly – field survey observations for angular and distance measurements utilising Wild T2, one second of arc theodolite, and Wild D1 20 Distomat infra-red electronic distance measuring equipment, EDM, capable of millimetre accuracy.

A total of 78 new geodetic control survey stations were established on the islands of Upolu, Manono, Apolima and Savaii by myself, in conjunction with Departmental survey field party teams plural, over the period 1983 to 1985.  Ground survey control stations were either concrete observing pillars, brass plaques set in concrete with an iron witness post, or galvanised iron pipes set in concrete – dependent on site terrain, accessibility, and distance from the survey vehicle.  My survey project measured field observations were recorded in sixteen survey field books, numbered 746 to 761 inclusive, held by the Survey Office, Department of Lands and Surveys, Apia.

I have attached as a PDF, a barely readable copy of the survey plan detailing the overall control traverse network, highlighted in red, completed by myself, over the main islands of Upolu and Savaii, together with measured connections between these islands.


Principal senior field survey assistant Taofia, who assisted me throughout the whole of this project.

“Manuia le ta’avale, Robarti”


Island circumference Geodetic control traverses were independently checked by solar astronomical azimuth observations on specified traverse lines on both Upolu and Savaii.  Measured  traverse loops survey miscloses were checked by plane projection coordinate computations, and met standard specified criteria.  The Savaii traverse loop perimeter was a total length of 174.4 kilometres.

Additionally, the computed Geodetic latitude and longitude of  my control traverse points, were compared with the six previously established Doppler satellite stations’ coordinates, undertaken by the Royal Australian Survey Corps on Upolu and Savaii in 1982.  Acceptable minor differences were noted between these two seperate Geodetic surveys.

Left – Samoan Survey Technician, Finauga, operating Wild T2 instrument and Wild D1 20 Distomat EDM, on top of concrete survey pillar, Geodetic control traverse survey station, Upolu.  Top right – Field assistant with erected over the station mark, bank of 9 circular reflecting prisms, for EDM distance measurement.

Toyota Hilux 4WD survey vehicle, tailgate down,  and field staff, on the vehicular and passenger ferry travelling from Mulifanua Wharf, Upolu, to Salelolonga Wharf, Savaii.  A 24 hour plus wait to get the vehicle on this ferry.



Top left – Arriving at Apolima Island                                 Top right – Guest accommodation fale, Apolima Island


Top left – Samoan Matai’s daughter on Apolima Island          Top right – Survey field party leaving Apolima Island

Apolima Island is the rim of an old extinct volcanic crater.


Necessary complex Geodetic and map projection coordinates computations and adjustments, were undertaken on an Apple IIe computer, with Geodetic and mapping software provided by Scientific Software, Brisbane, Australia.

The Universal Transverse Mercator Projection on the WGS 72 spheroid, with a 6 degree zone width, was the basis for the computation of coordinates on the UTM grid for the Geodetic control traverse survey of Western Samoa.  An alternative map projection, which may have been  more suitable for Western Samoa, in consideration of the shape, location and size of the two main islands, was a Transverse Mercator Projection with a 2 degree zone width.  Final adopted mapping coordinate data was supplied for both the 6 degree and 2 degree zone widths.  Refer to extract of data shown below.  Note, the Geodetic software provided at the time could not compute west longitudes, and accordingly, they are described in the data in an east format.

An extract of the title and contents only of my final submitted comprehensive written report, of my project involvement, is attached as a PDF.


Extract of stations’ summary of Geodetic control data for part of Savaii – Geographics, Latitudes are south, Longitudes are east – Transverse Mercator Projection grid coordinates east and north, Zone is 2 degrees width, Central Meridian 172 degrees west, Zone 5, World Geodetic System 1972 spheroid.  WGS 72.


Robert undertaking precision angle observations with the Wild T2 instrument at a Geodetic control traverse station on Savaii.  This station was located on an old black volcanic lava field in close proximity to the ocean coast.  Note the white large surf spray in the background.  My Samoan field assistant is booking my readings to the field book, whilst holding one of the Tait 2-way communication radios. Access to this station necessitated a 3 hour walk from the survey vehicle, which was left at the nearest trafficable road.  Photo was taken by Taofia.


O loʻu loto fa’afetai tele i aʻu uo uma Samoa.
Fa’afetai i mea uma mo nei tau taua.
Loʻu taimi ma loʻu aafiaga i Samoa e leʻi faagaloina.
~ Robarti


Fai le la !  Lelei le matagi !
Make sail !  The winds are fair !




The Australian Government through ADAB, provided all Geodetic measuring equipment, Apple IIe computer, Geodetic computation software, Toyota Hilux 4WD vehicle, and an aluminium dinghy with outboard motor for this project.

The assistance of Tony Godfrey-Smith, Resident Australian High Commissioner to Western Samoa,  during my project period.

Without Gillian’s eyes and dedicated and passionate involvement, this article would not have been produced.  Malo tele lava Gillian.  Special thanks to our son Sam for helping to restore some of the old damaged photos.


Western Samoa – The Land, Its People, The Way of Life, Cradle of Polynesia, Western Samoa Visitors Bureau publication, 18 November 1981.

Manual of the New South Wales Integrated Survey Grid, NSW Department of Lands, Sydney, January 1976.

Stevenson, Robert Louis, A Footnote to History – Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa, Pub. 1912, Swanston Edition.

Stevenson, Robert Louis, In the South Seas, Pub. 1924, Chatto & Windus, London.

Turner, George, Samoa, a Hundred Years Ago and Long Before, London Missionary Society, First Pub. 1884, London. Ebook – Project Gutenberg, 1 Dec. 2004.

The Cyclopedia of Samoa, Illustrated. Published under the Patronage of His Excellency Dr Solf, the Governor of German Samoa, 1907, Sydney, McCarron Stewart & Co.

Irwin, George, Samoa – A Teacher’s Tale, Pub. 1965, Cassell, London.  Maps provided above sourced from this pub.

Freeman, Derek, Margaret Mead and Samoa – The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, Pub. 1983, Australian National University Press, Canberra.

Barr, Donna Marie, My View From the House by the Sea, Pub. 2022, White Hawk Press.


Time out for Robert and Gillian on Upolu.


Robert produced this posting with Gillian, as part of his personal therapy, while recovering from an Ischemic stroke.

Severe end-stage wet Macular Degeneration + an Elgato Stream Deck + an Apple iMac. Single key stroke computer use with a 15 key device.


Any permanent vision loss is only properly understood by persons who have had this experience.  Various levels of macular degeneration usually leave an individual with some peripheral sight.  My mantra is maximise the use of my remaining sight.  The purpose of this posting is to encourage, enhance and try to simplify computer use for a person impacted by MD.

The de facto standard full size computer keyboard contains about 104 keys.  For a person with sight loss, it can become a daunting or impossible task to use such a keyboard effectively.

An alternative option for consideration is to use a shortcut keypad limited to 3 rows and 5 columns, comprising 15 keys only, and activated by a single key stroke.  This keypad can be configured to any users particular requirements.  Keys can be allocated to any position on the keypad, with individual keys highlighted with a selected prompting icon.  If required, additional pages can be added to the keypad to undertake a wider range of tasks.  Importantly, with only a small learning curve, this keypad can be operated  by a vision impaired user eventually, by unsighted touch-typing.

In my experience, the aforesaid parameters can be met by the 15 key Elgato Stream Deck.


Setting up the Keypad ~ an overview

The image below is a screenshot from my iMac showing part of the implementation details of the working page from the Stream Deck website.  This facilitates the creation of the single keystroke shortcut or macro, together with the associated pictorial key icons selected.

As shown in the two keypad images above, these pictorial icons are automatically transferred to the physical shortcut keypad.


Keypad shortcuts that I find most useful for my Page 1

This explanatory table below details the action associated with any of my created pictorial icons located on my Page 1 of the shortcut keypad.

Keyboard shortcuts or macros can be enabled from options within the Screen Deck website.


Website Navigation

The image below is a screenshot of part of my Desktop on my Apple iMac 27″ 5K PC.  Enlarged icons on a plain blue background permit me immediate access to my most frequently used websites or applications.  This is facilitated by the use of my mouse and the largest screen cursor available.  Additionally if required, I can zoom into and out of  the whole of the Desktop screen.  Importantly, a particular icon when opened, can access another window of new large icons referenced to a theme.



Without the assistance of the Priklets collective, this article could not have been achieved.  Special thanks to my son Sam for his critical input and to my wife Gillian of 50 years plus, for her perspicacity and patience.  This posting was created by Robert whilst recovering from an Ischemic stroke.

Waikiki Dreamer ~ Time Before ~ No Fear

My use of the iPhone 12 with severe end-stage Macular Degeneration.

To a normal sighted person, the images below might appear weird or kindergarten like.

But to a person aged nearly 74, with permanently obscured vision and the prognosis of no cure, which is profoundly scary, these images may be a gift of enlightenment.

If my presentation helps someone, I will have achieved my aim.


Big Clock HD




top left Big Dialler ~ top right Text Messaging – Siri error, should be plain


top left BigCalc Pro ~ top right EyeChart HD


top left Big Text top right Notes and Big Keys


top left Magnified Australian 5 cent coin  ~  top right Siri and Zoom Controller


top left Robert at Byron Bay, 1989  ~  top right Gillian in Jonson Street, Byron Bay, 1998


Back Story

Out the back, no fear, take the drop, go hard ~ in the zone.

In January 2021, my wife Gillian suggested to me that I should get an iPhone. I was seriously sceptical about this proposition, as I held the clear view that it would be of little use to me, because of my serious central vision loss due to severe end-stage macular degeneration in both my eyes. How wrong was I.

The primary benefit of this iPhone 12 purchase was to reduce the pressure upon Gillian and grab a little much needed independence for myself – and Gillian.

With Gillian in the role of the sighted instructor, we embarked on an intense iPhone 12 bootcamp to attempt to familiarise me with various application uses of this device.  In a relatively short time, critical benefits were achieved for both of us, but especially for me.

Key achievements – a work in progress.

Most importantly, I emphasise that I still need the sighted assistance of Gillian in navigation, editing, checking and reviewing my efforts on my iPhone 12.  This is a continuing learning curve exercise for myself, and can only improve with time.  My mantra is – try to learn only a few apps very well,  otherwise you will go crazy – and this is a crazy enough endeavour as it is.

My current primary uses for this 2021 ios 14.4 iPhone 12 are -

  • Mobile phone calls and text messaging by manual keyboard input, touch phone number in my Contacts list, by voice command using various apps or Siri, or by speech to text and text to speech with the onboard microphone and speaker.  FaceTime via video link.
  • Magnification of the outside world. Can also be activated by a double tap on the back of  the device.
  • Commands, questions and device navigation directed at Siri.  Activation by my voice.  Siri has improved markedly in recent years.  However, Siri AI is not perfect, and on occasion will make mistakes.
  • Speech to text and text to speech apps. Used in a variety of applications. Particularly in note taking and for the purpose of text messaging.  Also, confirmation of text to speech of my own created writings.
  • Zoom controller. On-screen icon which facilitates zooming in or magnification of what is on the iPhone screen.  Additional feature of this controller, on activation, is to speak on-screen text.  In Accessibility, in Settings, on-screen text may be resized using the sliding scale feature.

There are a myriad of indeterminable uses for the modern, continually evolving iPhone device, and I will leave this to your own future exploration.


The biggest stressor is sight loss.
The biggest anxiety is further sight loss.
So get out the back again.

Green Tree frog at night
photographed on the window pane
of our Coorabell home, 2021

Once upon a time as a cadastral Mastamak on Bougainville Island

Time before ~ years 1974 to 1975 ~ on a verdant high Pacific Island

Mastamak Robert leading a Bougainvillean land boundary field surveying party
North-east coast of Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea









Back Story

The above photographs, albeit some poor quality images, only tell a component of the procedures related to land boundary surveying.  The foundation of a Certificate of Title for land ownership is based upon a plan of survey, undertaken and signed off by an authorised Land Surveyor.

Precision measurement is undertaken on the ground to reinstate old established land boundaries, and for the creation of new land boundaries, either in an urban or rural land context.  Additionally, new land boundaries are required to be marked on the ground, and with respect to this Bougainville location, boundary markings were substantial concrete pegs, which would not rot in a tropical environment.

Attached to the field survey part of a job is investigation of old original plans of survey, land subdivision design, computations associated with plan of survey preparation, additional control survey and reference marking to comply with statutory requirements, with the final output being, the State authorised, approved and registered legal plan of survey.


Many thanks to Smith & Hard, Consulting Surveyors, Kieta, Bougainville, PNG, who employed me as a Registered Land Surveyor, during the period 1974 to 1975, on Bougainville Island.

My sincere gratitude to all participants, especially my Bougainvillean colleagues, involved with my survey work during my time on Bougainville Island.

My wife Gillian accompanied me onsite for the whole of my working period on Bougainville, living in whatever accommodations were available to us – she certainly made life easier for me.  Without Gillian’s eyesight, this posting could not have been created and developed.  For this crucial role, my extreme thanks go to my wife and amanuensis.

Where applicable, some photo negatives have been restored by Paul Full, Ace PhotoShop, Ballina, NSW.


Sinclair, James, Mastamak – The Land Surveyors of Papua New Guinea, Pub. 2001 – see page 327

Nelson, Hank, Taim Bilong Masta – The Australian Involvement with Papua New Guinea, Pub. 1982, based on the ABC Radio series produced by Tim Bowden

Bowden, Tim, Taim Bilbong Masta – The Australian Involvement with Papua New Guinea, ABC Audio Book

Oliver, Douglas, Black Islanders – A Personal Perspective of Bougainville 1937 – 1991, Pub. 1991

Linklater, Andro, Owning the Earth – The Transforming History of Land Ownership, Pub. 2013

Winchester, Simon, Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World, Pub. 2021

View the professional background of Robert Prikulis, Registered Surveyor


© Copyright to Robert and Gillian Prikulis, 2020


My blindness condition, perpetual degeneration or future regeneration Six years in the murk, but not lights out.


I’ve been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing
Each time I find myself flat on my face
I pick myself up and get back in the race

The Chairman of the Board, Francis Albert Sinatra


According to the WHO dated 11 October 2017, “an estimated 253 million people live with vision impairment: 36 million are blind and 217 million have moderate to severe vision impairment.”  Inclusive within the above statistics, there are about more than 450,000 Australians with a vision impairment.  I am one of these persons.

My purpose in posting this article is to establish a reference bench mark to note my progress, if any, in respect of my blindness condition, nearly six years after achieving the unenviable status of becoming legally blind.  Intentionally, others may benefit  from my commentary.

My wife Gillian is my confidante, gSight and amanuensis in all matters pertaining to my personal coping with my sight loss trauma.  From the beginning, Gillian has carried this burthen, enduring all the ups and downs, and at times, our road has been rocky.

I cannot see your face


As a person impacted upon by the wet form of Macular Degeneration (MD) in both eyes for nearly six years, I have necessarily developed a serious interest in matters related to the improvement of the vision enhancement of persons affected by this disease.

Based on my personal experience, the three most important directions that may give hope to persons with sight loss due to wet MD, and not necessarily in order, are -

1.  Future possible medical breakthroughs in the restoration of sight loss.

Currently in Australia, there is no medical procedure or cure for the full or partial restoration of sight for persons affected by the wet form of MD.  In my case, my maculars became dead moonscapes known as disciform scarring and associated geographic atrophy, causing complete central vision loss, leaving me with only degenerating peripheral vision.  I guess I inherited the full genetic package.

Research work being undertaken in Japan and California, and at London’s Moorefield Hospital, may bring us some hope for the future.  In my layman’s understanding, gene and stem cell therapies are being trialled on selected patients with wet MD, for the purpose of vision restoration.  This is a work in progress and not currently available in the public domain.

Oddly enough, I still do not lose hope that a serious medical breakthrough may turn up one day, which may offer in the minimum, a partial restoration of sight for those who really know what vision loss is all about.  Fate will determine this.

2. Mental health coping mechanisms to live with a blindness condition.

My personal therapy repertoire, to get me through the day, is to try to avoid thinking about or dealing with my problems associated with my serious central vision loss.  But, and there is always a but, something always smacks you in the face to remind you of your place.  A structured day always helps.

The predominant stressor precipitated by my central vision loss, is that I have been transformed from a competent professional consultant to an illiterate person prior to the development of the Gutenburg printing press in 1450.  My bonus being that illiterates, through necessity, develop strong memory capabilities.  Simply, I now cannot read text in a normal way and rely excessively on Gillian to assist me here.

My Digitech radio has become a primary information and amusement source, which has replaced my previously, taken for granted, reading ability.  I possess a substantive library of books in my former office, which I now cannot read.  I have developed a positive practise with Gillian, who reads to me a chapter or two from a book or an ebook almost every afternoon.  Lucky Robbie.

Working together with Gillian, we have created numerous personal podcast MP3 recordings as a therapy to deal with my blindness condition issues.  This has proved to be a successful technique, with substantial ribald humorous content as well.

Derek Daniel’s three chapter PDF book titled “Lost in Transition”, relating to his experience of sight loss and strategies for coping, is recommended reading.

The following podcast which I listened to recently, presented some invigorating ideas – reference :  “Holding on to Hope: Thoughts from a Therapist” - Episode 37 “Life after Sight Loss Radio” podcast by Derek Daniel, dated 22 November 2017.

The other most useful thing I have found in the last 6 months is information found through Youtube concerning blindness issues.  Have a look at Sam and the Blindspot, Sam and the Blind Life and Derek Daniel’s website and his podcasts, “Life after Sight Loss Radio”.

I cannot see my face


3.  Modern technological devices, which may improve the vision experience of persons with wet MD.

I have had the opportunity of testing and trialling four different types of wearable eyesight devices, and currently, I have had long-term possession and use of one of these.  My experience is that these devices only provide a marginal lift in my personal vision enhancement.

I am acutely aware that wearable vision devices may not suit varying eye conditions, particularly where the intensity of vision loss is high.  Possibly the extent of my vision loss falls into the lost cause category, and therefore I cannot  currently be assisted by this new type of technology.

From my perspective, a more serious integration of the relevant expert medical fraternity and device manufacturers, could benefit the end user much more.  One size fits all, doesn’t necessarily work.

It could be construed that the rule of caveat emptor applies to the purchase of the relatively expensive wearable eye devices.  An interested person should take care in critically establishing that a particular device genuinely provides a real and distinct vision enhancement experience, before purchase commitment.  Try to seperate the emotion from the reality.

My go-to technology, which provides for me the most valuable benefits for my blindness condition are the Apple 5K 27″ iMac personal computer, together with the Apple iPad Pro 10.5″.  Entry cost is high, initial learning curve may be steep, but there are over-riding wider benefits in the Accessibility features for persons with a vision impairment.  The added significant bonus being online connection, together with all the normal digital computer facilities.  In my view, the combination of the desktop computer and tablet gives you the most bang for your buck.  Gillian and I necessarily work together to solve our sometimes maddening computer glitches.

My list for June 2018 of the best features and apps that I find useful, in respect to my vision loss, when working with my Mac and iPad Pro are as follows.

Both devices facilitate text to speech and speech to text, and have an efficient zooming capability to enlarge text and images on the screens.  Large desktop icons permit access to various websites and apps.

The iPad Pro in particular has a superior camera which allows for real-time external magnification and is straight forward to use.

The best iPad Pro apps I have found to date are – Camera, Magnification, Super Vision, PMag, Supervision + Search, Seeing AI, Prizmo Go, EasyReader, Big Keyboard, Big List, Scanbot Pro, MyScript Stylus, MyScript Calculator 2, VoCalc and MD evReader.  These apps are inbuilt or free, or can be purchased for a few dollars.

Six years in the murk, but not lights out

My summary position statement

I am not lights out yet as I am fortunate to have some remaining peripheral vision – the murk.  I work with this the best I am able, and am always driven to search for answers, which may improve my lot and others.  Now in my 70th year, I wouldn’t allow myself to guide anyone across a busy road.

I am skeptical that a cure for persons with wet MD will be available to the general public in the next six years – and at what location and cost, if and when it does become a reality.

The reason I make this statement is that an acquaintance of mine, who is also affected by serious long-term vision loss, commented that medical cures were talked about thirty years ago, and still have not eventuated.

I dearly hope that I am wrong, and be corrected in my statement in the near future.


Robert and Gillian at Coorabell in 1999 – before the murk

Robert Prikulis ~ Emeritus NSW Registered Land Surveyor, 1 September 2016