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Increased COVID-19 Risks with AMD

Little did I know that my life was going to be turned upside down over the coming months this time last year. Day by day, as I listened to the news, I came to realize that this new virus not only threatened others, but was also a threat to my health.

COVID-19

Older people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung conditions, and cancer are at higher risk for complications.1

AMD increases the risks of COVID complications

Only recently after a study was published in Nature Medicine, was it known that having Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) increases your risk for developing severe complications from COVID-19. Although, the risk of contracting the virus depends on individual behavior. 2

At 71, my general health is really quite good, but having AMD puts me in a high-risk category.

Helping others

As the days passed, the daily news reports were filled with worsening statistics. I grew anxious and found myself close to having panic attacks at night when I tried to sleep.

I realized I needed something to occupy my time. As I learned that our nursing homes and first responders were not able to obtain masks, I joined a growing army of seamstresses making masks. I was able to provide cloth masks for a local nursing home, my health clinic, and for any individuals that needed them.

Taking precautions

From the start, I practiced all the recommendations for the prevention of COVID-19. I hummed “Happy Birthday” as I washed my hands, used hand sanitizer, and wore a mask everywhere I went. I knew from the growing numbers of cases that these measures alone were not enough to end the Pandemic.

Vaccine Development

We were in desperate need of effective treatments and a vaccine.

I began researching vaccine development. I learned that worldwide, researchers began collaborating to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. In only 10 days after the first case was diagnosed, researchers successfully uncovered the viral sequence of SARS-CoV-2.4 By cooperating, researchers were able to fast-track the development of a safe and effective vaccine. In December 2020, two vaccines were approved by the FDA!

The data from clinical trials show that the known and potential benefits of taking the vaccine far outweigh the known and potential risks. It’s important to note that scientists already knew a great deal about coronaviruses and did not have to start from scratch to develop a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.4

Taking the vaccine

Since I’m a retired nurse, I knew I would take the vaccine as soon as it was available.  But, I was surprised when I talked with friends and found many were not planning to take it. Some had heard it might alter our DNA. Others worried it would give them the virus or even cause death.

I turned to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for information to share with friends and family to help dispel these myths. The COVID-19 vaccines cannot make you sick and it does not alter your DNA.5

I received the vaccine and had my second dose on February 9th.

Staying safe and staying healthy

After reading the results of the clinical study that showed an increased risk of complications for anyone with AMD, I am glad I did.  It is my hope the macular degeneration community members will carefully consider getting the vaccine.  Do your research, discuss concerns with your doctor, and regardless of your decision, do all you can to stay safe!

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