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I’m Proof that Macular Degeneration Is Not a Blindness Sentence

I was diagnosed at age 58 with the beginnings of macular degeneration. I had all the risk factors; my mother had lost her central vision to dry macular degeneration, I had been a smoker and had been obese for a few years. I had been careful with sunglasses up to a point, but definitely not enough. All things which added to my risk.

The beginnings of macular degeneration

I had originally gone for a new prescription for glasses, when it was discovered I had cataracts. The ophthalmologist I was referred to suspected the beginnings of macular degeneration and referred me on to a retinal specialist who confirmed his suspicions. But it was very early, nothing needed to be done. I had the cataract surgery, the other eye done about a year later, and could see as well as I always had. Which meant unless the writing was very small or I was very far away, I didn’t really even need glasses.

Healthy lifestyle

I basically put the diagnosis out of my mind and continued to live my now healthy lifestyle. But I did start being more careful with sunglasses. I took the recommended supplements. My diet was already good, with lots of fish and leafy greens.

My AMD had advanced to wet

Fast forward to just before my 70th birthday when the annual visit to my optometrist showed my AMD had advanced to choroidal neovascularization, the advanced “wet” form in my left eye. That was the beginning of injections, now at 8-week intervals. But thankfully it had been discovered early and my eyesight has remained quite good. My “dry” right eye has a little translucent grey smudge, but so far not really intrusive.

Needing more light

My sight has changed in subtle ways. I find I need more light to be able to see as well I did when I was younger. But it turns out that could be mostly just age! I’ve discovered that by age 65 we need twice as much light to see as well as we did at age 20, and about a third again as much at 80! That’s even without macular degeneration.1 But needing more light has meant I’ve chosen not to drive at night, at least in the rain, with the added glare.

Colours have lost their vibrancy

Another way my sight has changed is that some colours have lost their vibrancy. Certain colours more than others. I sometimes find it difficult to distinguish between muted blues and greens, but I can still see them. A minor annoyance. Higher contrast helps as well.

More on this topic

Now the part I think should give the newly diagnosed some hope...

Focusing on what I can do

We always seem to discuss more what we can’t see, or can’t do. Let’s take time now to focus on what we can do. At 74, I can still read. I can still drive. I can take pictures on my walks and can still sew, although black is now not as easy. The vision chart at my last visit showed I’m still at 20/25 and 20/30. Although sometimes I wonder how that works when I can use the pinhole occluder to help. I’m guessing if I had the actual vision test using the machine, the results would be the same.

Remember, less than 15% of us will advance to wet! After over 16 years already with AMD, I’m optimistic that with the injections, and my healthy lifestyle, I’ll maintain my sight well enough to enjoy the next 25 years.

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