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When Being Diagnosed With Macular Degeneration is Good News — Really! 

Never could I imagine EVER thinking a diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) would be GOOD news... until my friend called with this exciting news following an exam by a retina specialist (RS) I recommended. I had to laugh about the irony of her abundant joy over hearing she was in the first stages of dry AMD. Here’s the story behind this unusual reaction.

A call from a friend about a diagnosis

My friend (we’ll call her Jen) called out of the blue after I had not heard from her for awhile. I wondered what was up and returned the call. It was bad news and, knowing I had AMD, she reached out to me — I’m so glad she did!

During a regular eye exam with her optometrist, it was suggested she see an RS. She wasn’t concerned but scheduled the appointment. She had no symptoms and felt fine, but that all changed in a flash at the appointment with the recommended RS.

A terrifying experience

Jen’s first recollection was what terrible bedside manner her doctor had and how he lacked any empathy. He very nonchalantly informed her she had dry AMD and could lose her sight at any time. He offered little detail other than she needed a treatment plan and a genetic test he could provide — for an additional fee. RED FLAG!

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Jen further described how terrified she was about this unexpected news and the fear she felt about the possibility of losing her sight at any time. As I listened, it made no sense that she was diagnosed with dry AMD and was close to losing her sight, yet had no symptoms. From my personal experience, I explained to her how slowly mine had progressed over the last 11 years, which was typical of others I'd heard from with dry AMD. There was no suggested treatment plan, such as injections, so I knew she didn’t have it confused with wet AMD.

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More 'red flags' about my friend's appointment

It also concerned me that his only recommendation was to be genetically tested at their office, which was an additional cost. I explained I had never been genetically tested in 11 years with AMD. I never felt the need and didn’t see how it could help at this point, nor was it recommended to me. So what if it was in my genes? What would it matter? This RS told her they could then tailor her treatment plan after they got the genetic results. To my knowledge, there is no specific treatment depending on genetic results. Another RED FLAG!

Much of what Jen told me that night made no sense. I strongly recommended she get a second opinion, which many insurances will cover, and provided her the contact information for my RS. What could it hurt? We agreed, and she set an appointment. It would be interesting to hear what he had to say. She anxiously awaited the appointment for a second opinion.

The second opinion was music to her ears

After an extensive exam and private consultation, Jen learned that yes, she did have dry AMD. But that was the ONLY part that was right.

She was in the very early stages and didn’t need to return for another year. He also felt genetic testing was unwarranted and found it to be problematic in many cases. At that point, Jen dissolved into tears! After being told she could lose her sight at any time, striking fear in her heart... the news that she had the beginning stages of AMD was music to her ears!

Sharing the good news

It’s all relative, isn’t it? It makes me appreciate the sight I still have instead of focusing on what I don’t have.

Thanks to Jen, and others like her, reminding all of us to be grateful and appreciate the opportunity to support one another and “pay it forward.”

What GOOD news can you share today about having AMD? Let’s share the GOOD news!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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