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Vision Loss, A Family Affair

Vision loss was something I learned about early in life. 

At a young age, my father lost the vision in one eye as the result of an accident. The loss of vision made driving difficult for him, but he still drove a commercial truck and never had an accident.

Practicing for what may yet be

As a child, I loved to read, and one of my favorite stories was about the life of Helen Keller. I was totally fascinated with her life and often played a game pretending I was blind. I would squeeze my eyes shut and try to find my way around a familiar room. You might say I was practicing for what may yet be my reality.

Family history of AMD

My mother was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) at age 80. Initially, she was not referred to a retinal specialist. Several years later, as her vision worsened, she saw a retinal specialist and found she had dry in one eye and wet in the other. She immediately began injections, which were very successful at preserving her vision.  She was able to enjoy reading and other hobbies until her death at age 88.

My younger sister was diagnosed in her late 50’s with AMD. Like Mom, she had dry in one eye and wet in the other and began having injections. The injections have been very effective and resulted in a three-year hiatus from injections. Recently she had to resume the injections.

First cataracts, and then macular degeneration

At age 65, I had cataract surgery on both eyes.  At that time, I had no signs of macular degeneration. My ophthalmologist told me I would never have it since I had no signs in my 60’s. 

Less then a year later, I saw my optometrist for glasses, and he told me he could see some changes in my eyes. He ordered an OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography), which confirmed his suspicion of dry AMD. Since I wasn’t experiencing any problems with my vision, it was agreed he would check it at each annual eye exam.

When my vision blurred

All was well until two years ago when I began noticing significant blurring in my right eye.  I returned to my optometrist, who immediately referred me to the retinal specialist that had cared for my Mom and later, my sister.

The retinal specialist ordered an OCT and explained that I had big fluffy drusen in the macula's center of my right eye. He further explained that the type drusen I have, soft and fluffy, is the bad kind to have. People with this type of drusen often have worsening vision with blurring. [1]

I have experienced a rapid decline in the vision in the right eye in the past two years. My right eye has changed from 20/30 corrected to 20/80 at my last visit.  My retinal specialist considers me a high risk for wet macular degeneration.  I have twice yearly checkups, and I use an Amsler Grid to self monitor my vision.

Optimistic about the future

Today I try to stay optimistic about the future. I eat a healthy diet, exercise daily, and take my ARED2 formula vitamins faithfully. I wear polarized sunglasses whenever I am outside and especially when driving. I know that regardless of my macular degeneration progression, I am unlikely ever to be completely blind.  But hey, if the worst-case scenario should happen, I can always fall back on all that early training I had pretending to be Helen Keller!

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