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Fact vs Fiction: 10 Questions

In my work with those who have macular degeneration, I emphasize education to separate the facts from the fiction. I’ve found that sometimes when we depend on others with the disease or those who don't have it but know someone who does, it’s easy to get misleading or false information. Ever play the game where the first person in a group whispers a sentence into the ear of the next person. Then that person whispers what they heard into the ear of the next person and so on. When it gets to the last person, what they hear is not usually not like what the original sentence was!

The problem is that this can turn into a person making decisions that turn out to bad ones.

Fact or fiction?

Here are a few of the often-misunderstood facts.

Let’s first see how you do. For each numbered sentence, choose ‘fact’ or ‘fiction.’ I'm referring to AMD, but there are similarities in some of these other forms of macular degeneration such as Stargardt disease and myopic macular degeneration.

  1. If a person has no other eye disease except AMD, they will NOT lose ALL of their vision.
  2. AREDS2 is the brand name of a specific supplement product for AMD.
  3. The injections given to people with wet AMD stop the disease process.
  4. When you have wet AMD and have had an injection and the doctor says that you are 'dry,' that means that the wet AMD is now considered dry AMD.
  5. If you are diagnosed with early dry AMD, you do not have to monitor your vision for changes right away because dry AMD always progresses slowly...maybe it will be 10 years before you notice any changes.
  6. Not everyone progresses to wet AMD.
  7. Some people with vision loss see things that aren’t there.
  8. There’s nothing you can do to slow down the progression of AMD.
  9. There are 'treatments' that will reverse AMD: supplements other than AREDS2-based ones, the keto diet, acupuncture, CBD Oil, homeopathic treatments, and others.
  10. Viewing cell phones, televisions, and computer screens damages the eyes.

How do you think you did? Let's see if anything surprises you.

Can you go blind with macular degeneration?

If a person has no other eye disease except AMD, they will NOT lose ALL of their vision.

FACT. A person with macular degeneration can lose their central vision but their peripheral vision typically remains intact. Now, if a person has cataracts that progress to the severe stage, then that can cause total blindness. In those cases, cataract surgery would be part of the conversation.

What is AREDS and AREDS2?

AREDS2 is the brand name of a specific supplement product for AMD.

FICTION. AREDS2 is not a brand name. AREDS stands for Age-Related Eye Disease Study. The ‘2’ is there because there were 2 studies: AREDS and AREDS2. The studies created formulations of vitamins and other nutrients that were shown to reduce the risk of wet AMD for those with intermediate/moderate AMD and those with wet AMD in one eye but not the other.  Many people use AREDS2 to refer to Bausch & Lomb’s PreserVision product which has the ingredients from the AREDS2 research, PreserVision is, however, one of many AREDS2-based supplement products.

Do eye injections cure macular degeneration?

The injections given to people with wet AMD stop the disease process.

FICTION.The medications in the anti-VEGF injections do not stop wet AMD, but they can slow down the rate of progression and vision loss. The earlier a person begins treatment, the better the prognosis.

Can wet macular degeneration change to dry?

When you have wet AMD and have had an injection and the doctor says that you are 'dry,' that means that the wet AMD is now considered dry AMD.

FICTION. Dry and wet are types of AMD. All AMD starts as dry even though some people aren't diagnosed until it is wet. For many people, dry AMD will not progress to the advanced stages of wet and advanced dry/geographic atrophy. All AMD starts as dry. If dry AMD progresses to wet and a person is being treated for bleeding under the macula, some eye specialists will say that the eye is ‘dry’ or that the injection ‘dried up’ the eye. That does not mean the eye goes ‘backward’ to dry AMD. It’s more accurate in remission or stabilized. The eye needs to be carefully monitored for future bleeding.

Does macular degeneration progress quickly?

If you are diagnosed with early dry AMD, you do not have to monitor your vision for changes right away because dry AMD always progresses slowly...maybe it will be 10 years before you notice any changes.

FICTION. Although early AMD tends to progress slowly, everyone is different. I know people whose early AMD progressed quickly to wet AMD, seemingly to have skipped the intermediate stage.

How many people get wet macular degeneration?

Not everyone progresses to wet AMD.

FACT. 90% of those with AMD have the dry type. 10% progress to wet AMD. It is not inevitable that everyone with AMD will eventually develop the wet form.

Can you have visual hallucinations with macular degeneration?

Some people with vision loss see things that aren’t there.

FACT. There is a disorder called Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS). When there are holes in our vision, the brain tries to fill them in. Sometimes when that happens, what is filled in makes sense. Sometimes it does not. These visual hallucinations can be frightening! If someone has them and doesn’t know what’s going on, they may think they are becoming demented.

Can you slow the progression of macular degeneration?

There’s nothing I can do to slow down the progression of AMD.

FICTION. There are some things you can do to slow down the progression of AMD:

  • Wear sunglasses that filter out 100% UVA/UVB and a high percentage of blue rays of the sun
  • Eat more leafy green vegetables
  • Get moderate exercise
  • Reduce the amount of sugar in the diet
  • Make sure to maintain a healthy weight, blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Don’t smoke
  • Reduce stress or at least learn how to manage it

Can you reverse macular degeneration?

There are 'treatments' that will reverse AMD: supplements other than AREDS2-based ones, the keto diet, acupuncture, CBD Oil, homeopathic treatments, and others.

FICTION. You will hear claims that certain treatments will ‘cure’ AMD or at least reverse it. There are only 3 treatments that have been proven to slow down the progression of AMD for some people:

Some of the claims are on websites by companies that sell the product.

Do electronic devices cause significant damage to our eyes?

Viewing cell phones, televisions, and computer screens damage the eyes.

FICTION. I did quite a lot of research on this one. There’s not enough blue light emitted by electronic devices to cause severe damage to our eyes. There can be symptoms like blurry vision, itchiness, and fatigued eyes that comes from digital eye strain. It comes from not blinking enough and not refocusing our eyes regularly.

How Did You Do?

Are you surprised that you didn’t get them all right? Don’t worry, it’s OK. As 'they' say (who are they anyway? ::smile::)

"Knowledge is power." and "Now you know!"

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