Advanced Stages of AMD: Diagnosed with Geographic Atrophy
I’m not a doctor, I’m just a regular 72-year-old guy that’s had AMD for about 9 years. Certainly, I’m not qualified to give you medical advice, so I won’t. What I will do is tell you my story, and hope it can help you in some way.
My macular degeneration diagnosis
It all started 9 years ago when I simply went to my optometrist for new glasses. Boy! What a day that was! My OD doc saw some shadows in my macula while doing a routine eye exam. He referred me to an RS (retina specialist) for further examination.
So there I was, a 63-year-old guy just 2 years away from retirement. The RS nonchalantly said, “You have macular degeneration, dry in the left eye and wet in the right. See the nurse to set you up for further tests and injections in your wet eye."
And BOOM!!! He was gone!
Can you relate?
Surely you were shocked, full of fear, confused, defeated, and all that stuff. You can relate, I’m sure.
It was not a good time at all, and we had to work our way through all the stages of grief and come to terms with an unpleasant reality. It was a bad and emotionally painful time.
But what choice did we have? We had to accept our plight and move forward with our lives. Hand wringing and teeth-gnashing get real old after a while.
Life went on
For the better part of 9 years, my vision stayed pretty stable. My vision in the dry eye stayed 20/30, and my right wet eye received about 80 injections and stayed about 20/40 and still is to this day.
Even though I'm not a fortune teller, I tried to imagine how my eye plight would play out. Turns out I was wrong... I always thought the wet eye would bite the dirt before my dry eye. But, this is not what happened.
My dry eye progressed
Remember I said I was 63 when all this happened? I’m 72 now and in just the last 6 months, my dry AMD eye progressed to geographic atrophy (GA). As a result of this, my central vision in this eye is now greatly impaired.
My vision tests about 20/300 (legally blind is 20/200). While my left wet eye, the one that’s been beat up by 80+ shots, is still hanging in there at 20/40. (Knock on wood).
What is geographic atrophy?
In some patients, retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells die or atrophy. The regions of atrophy result in a blind spot in the visual field, which is called geographic atrophy. Essentially, I now have a blind spot in my central vision of this eye. However, my peripheral vision in this eye is as good as it ever was.
Let me give you an example: When I take the OCT test and they tell me to look at the blue dot while they do the scan, I can’t even see the blue dot anymore with this eye.
But, this doesn’t mean it will happen to you!
Chances are it won’t happen to you. This article was not meant to scare anyone. I’m still happy as a clam and active. I am still fully engaged in life and enjoying myself. My wife and I got our 2nd shots of the COVID vaccine a few weeks ago and are grateful for that. We look forward to getting back together with family and friends as soon as it’s deemed safe for all of us to do so.
I plan to write about my pending visit with the vision rehab people and how that goes. So, don’t cry for me, Argentina! (That’s a song) or yourselves, my VIP peeps. Wishing us all well on our journey.
Editor's Note: As of August 2023, 2 drugs known as complement inhibitors — Syfovre® and Izervay™ — have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat geographic atrophy (GA).
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