Lesser-known Impacts of AMD

Last updated: October 2022

How has your vision changed since you’ve had macular degeneration (AMD)? My vision has changed a great deal in the 9 years Since I was diagnosed with AMD. In this short article, I intend to discuss some of the less common impacts of macular degeneration.

My past history with AMD

I’m a 73-year-old guy that 9 years ago, simply went to my optometrist for new glasses. Fast forwarding, after being referred to a retinal specialist (or RS), the RS told me I had dry AMD in my left eye and wet AMD in my right eye.

I will leave out the part about the emotional impact, fear, and dread that ensued. We’ve all gone through it, and it’s not pleasant. It is, however, a road to eventual acceptance that we must travel.

My present condition with AMD

For most of the past 9 years, my vision was quite stable. I had about 20/30 in both eyes for 8 of the 9 years. In addition, my wet AMD eye received about 80 injections of anti-VEGF medicine.

Then year 9 rolled around! My dry AMD eye went into GA or geographic atrophy. My vision in this eye went from 20/30 to 20/400 this past year! Do not be scared by this – only 5% of those with AMD progress to GA. So take a breath; it probably won’t happen to you.

Less common impacts of AMD

Besides central vision impairment, what other effects can AMD have?

Depth perception

With my GA now causing me to be legally blind in one eye, my depth perception is now greatly reduced. I must be more cautious going downstairs, stepping off a curb, filling a glass with liquid, etc.

Delayed dark adaptation

It takes longer for my eyes to adjust from light to dark conditions.

Color perception

People with AMD can gradually lose some color perception. Colors become paler and fainter. I still see color, but with less vibrancy now.

Floaters

It’s like seeing gnats flitting around that aren’t really there. This is a harmless condition that many of us simply get used to. They come and go for me.

Floaters are caused by thinning vitreous fluid. They can be annoying but are not cause for alarm. Certainly mention them to your eye doctor on your next visit but as a rule, they are harmless.

Visual hallucinations

This is quite rare but can occur. The phenomenon is called Charles Bonnet syndrome. Some people are afraid they’re going crazy... they're not! This is a result of the brain filling in images when it no longer receives input from part of the retina.

And again, it’s rare but can happen. This is another less common impact of macular degeneration to share with your RS.

Flashing Lights

This is more prevalent with wet AMD patients and occurs in the central vision. Definitely share this with your RS. But if you get the flashing in your peripheral or side vision, it could be serious. Let your RS rule out retinal detachment by getting an eye exam immediately.

A slow-moving condition

So that’s just a few less common impacts of AMD to consider if they happen to you. I will close by trying to reassure the reader that AMD is a slow mover, and most of you will not have to experience these issues. I still drive (daylight only), watch TV, and read on my devices.

The most common symptoms of advanced AMD are central vision distortion causing difficulty reading, driving, seeing the TV, or recognizing faces. Remember, as a rule, we will always have our peripheral vision! Helen Keller and Ray Charles did quite well with less than that!

I wish us all well on our eye health journey.

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