Advancing Age, Advancing AMD
When I was 58, I went to my optometrist thinking I needed a new prescription for glasses. He informed me I had a cataract and it would be a fairly simple procedure to have it removed.
Diagnosed with AMD
A visit to an ophthalmologist followed, who suspected the beginning of AMD and referred me to a retinal specialist. Yes, just a few small drusen. I knew a little about macular degeneration as my mother had it and I had researched what I could for her. It was a slowly progressive disease, with new treatments, including vitamins, seeming to be just around the next corner. No worries, I was still young enough that a “cure” or some type of treatment to slow the progression would be found before it could possibly affect me. I had the cataract removed and casually put it all out of my mind.
Wet macular degeneration progression
Fast forward 11 or 12 years. At my annual appointment, my optometrist found that my macular degeneration had advanced to “wet” in my left eye.
Minimal change in my vision
I had noticed very little change in my vision and had not even considered AMD. I just needed a little more light, and perhaps the reading portion of my progressives could be a bit larger next time. And maybe the blues and greens that looked so similar in my silly little computer game were poorly displayed. The Amsler grid seemed about the same with a few minor wavy lines and light puffs of smoke. Too many ignored symptoms.
But I had taken my AREDS 2 vitamins consistently, lost the excess weight, and hadn’t smoked in almost 20 years. Of my mother’s five children, I am the only one who smoked, also the only one with AMD. (Smoking and obesity come right behind heredity as a major risk factor.)
The shock of a diagnosis
An appointment with the retinal specialist was arranged immediately, at which time he said we needed to start injections right away. I had so many questions.
- How fast would I lose my sight?
- Do the injections hurt?
- How many would I have before the leaking stopped?
- Would my other eye become “wet” soon as well?
- Aren’t there any new treatments in the pipeline?
- How would my life change?
Living alone, the prospect of losing any part of my vision was devastating.
Anxiety of vision loss
I had my first Avastin injection the next day. As I had been told I couldn’t drive for four hours afterward, I took a bus which I hadn’t done in years. We zipped past the parks, the trees, the heritage houses, and modern office buildings as I wondered how long I’d be able to see them clearly.
My first eye injection
I walked into the waiting room to see a dozen or more mostly very elderly people with bandages on one or both eyes. Then it was my turn: pictures on different machines, drops, gel, more drops, and then a bandage over my left eye. My very caring retinal specialist then propped my eyelid open and directed me to look at a light in the ceiling, I felt a slight pressure and it was done.
Woo hoo! I had survived my first injection! Now how many more and how often were my next questions.
How do you protect your eyes from the sun?