Things to Consider When Newly Diagnosed
The day I was diagnosed with AMD: (Gulp...oh no!) Eight years ago I was diagnosed with wet AMD in my right eye and dry AMD in my left eye. My reaction was shock, fear, and confusion. I thought they were telling me I was going blind...soon!
I knew absolutely nothing about this disease. The eye doctor was a retina specialist (RS) who my optometrist referred me to. Unfortunately, he spent little time with me and shared very little information about what my future held. You may have had a similar experience upon being diagnosed.
What I wish I knew then
- That it may be years, even decades before I lost some of my central vision.
- That through injections of anti-VEGF medicine the ravages of wet AMD could be held at bay.
- That I would still be able to drive, read, and watch TV for a long time to come.
- The importance of diet, exercise and becoming health conscious.
What I know now is certainly not what I knew then. It’s sad, I think we all should be informed of those things.
Important items to consider
- If you smoke, know that smoking is a risk factor for AMD. It has been found to increase the risk of development and progression of AMD. Keeping this in mind, if you do smoke, consider quitting. (You can use aids like patch’s or nicotine gum if you need to.)
- Use the Amsler grid frequently to detect any changes in your vision. Report any sudden changes to your eye doctor immediately, not just on your next visit.
- Consider easing yourself into a better diet, the Mediterranean Diet is a great one. Eat lots of dark green leafy vegetables and oily fish like salmon. Substitute sweet cravings away from cookies, ice cream, and cake to fruit.
- Know your BMI and take steps to lose weight through exercise and diet.
That all sounds good, I know. It’s harder to do than you think it is. It is so important to take these steps in order to have the best chance to keep the vision you have intact.
What should I do now?
Educate yourself about your disease. There are many tools available to help plan strategies. Tools that can help you find physical, mental, and emotional support for those who are newly diagnosed with AMD. There are many websites that can help educate, support and reassure you. MacularDegeneration.net is certainly one of these.
Common misperceptions about AMD
- I’m going to go blind! No, you’re not! At worst you will have central vision loss, you will keep your peripheral vision.
- My sight is going to deteriorate rapidly! Again, not necessarily! I’ve had dry AMD in my left eye and wet AMD in my right eye for 8 years and have close to my original baseline vision. The dry eye has stayed quite stable and not progressed. The wet eye has stayed stabile thanks to the anti-VEGF injections (60+ so far).
Being newly diagnosed with AMD, it is a totally normal reaction to be scared. Your own imagination can conjure up all sorts of doom and gloom. But the reality is that we are fortunate to be living in a time when much can be done. Just as little as 20 years ago there wasn’t much they could do to help us. Now, significant research, drug trials (Beovu just approved for wet AMD!) and new methodologies are happening.
So you see, there is no reason to panic or be full of dread. The present is better than the past and the future holds much promise. Let’s stay connected and informed. I wish us all well on our health journey.
Are you aware of assistive technology for AMD?