It Is What It Is...

I had cataract surgery in September 2020. First the right eye, then 2 weeks later, the left. Shortly thereafter, I started noticing that lines that should have been straight were wavy. And when I opened my eyes in the morning, there was a central spotty patch in my central vision that soon resolved.

I knew this wasn’t normal, so I made an appointment with the optometrist who worked in the same practice as the ophthalmologist who had done my surgery.

Genetically at risk for AMD

He thought it was macular edema as a complication of the surgery, so he gave me a three-week course of eye drops. When I came back for a recheck, I wanted to believe things had gotten better, but they hadn’t, so he gave me a choice: another course of eye drops or a referral to a retinal specialist. I knew I was at risk for AMD because my aunt went blind from it (and 23and Me said I had single copies of both the CFH and ARMS2 genes) so I chose the referral.

It was already the end of December, so I couldn’t get an appointment until February 9, 2021. I dutifully showed up that day, and WHAM! I was told I had wet AMD in the left eye and dry in the right, and I got a shot that very day.

AMD progression a month later

At my next appointment, a month later, it was discovered that my right eye had turned wet too, so I got two shots.

Because the whole thing happened so quickly, it was an emotional hurricane. There was no time to ruminate over the situation and no time to think about what to do. If I’d had dry AMD before it turned wet, no one had ever told me or given me any information.

Seeking support

So I plunged into a journey of research, seeking out online articles and Facebook groups and started to ask questions of the doc.

At the time of my diagnosis, my vision was already impaired. Now I’m 16 months out, and I’ve had to give up night driving. I use my GPS to tell me where to turn during the day because I can’t make out the street signs. I also use magnification for reading and shopping. And I label my pill bottles in large letters with a Sharpie.

Progression is the difficult to accept

The most difficult thing for me is knowing that when AMD turns wet, it doesn’t stop the dry disease process, and vision loss from it keeps progressing. The shots prevent sudden blindness from bleeds, but the risk of vision loss is real.

So I don’t compare myself to others — some people progress slowly if at all, and others have to deal with changing the ways they do things soon after diagnosis.

So I’m living with it and keeping a stiff upper lip!

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