Advice for Seniors with Vision Loss

In this week’s US News and World Report, Philip Moeller writes:

Personal experience with macular degeneration. I have wet macular degeneration (MD) in both eyes. The Amsler grid is used to determine if you have MD. When I look at the grid with just my right eye all of the lines of the grid seem straight and clear. With my left eye the lines are wavy and distorted. My ophthalmologist diagnosed macular degeneration and sent me to a retina specialist. My mother and both of her siblings had MD, so I was genetically predisposed to get it. The retina specialist took pictures of my macula, the central part of the retina that provides for sharp, clear vision. The pictures showed I had “dry” MD in my right eye, and “wet” in my left. Wet is the worse of the two. Both eyes have “drusens,” which are yellow deposits under the retina. These are early signs of MD but they alone don’t cause severe vision loss. The center of my left retina has a protuberance that is distorting my vision.

Every six weeks I have Lucentis injections in the white part of my left eye. Sounds like it would hurt, but it really doesn’t. They numb the eye before the injection. After the injection I use antibiotic drops for three days to protect against infection. At each visit the doctor takes more pictures to check for change in my left eye. Unfortunately, there’s been no improvement. But it hasn’t gotten worse, so maybe injections have held off progression of the disease. The injections are very costly, so make sure your insurance company agrees to pay before you take them. I also take “AREDS” which is a vitamin complex very rich in eye nutrients. And I take lutein, long considered helpful for eye health. My new glasses include a prism in my left lens that has helped a lot for my distant vision. My reading glasses don’t help much; I actually read better with my left eye closed.

There is an important conference for retina specialists in New York next month. I am hoping to learn results of recent clinical trials to determine other treatment options. I read that vitamin B complex and folic acid have been somewhat effective, but the test results were not at all conclusive. I’m taking them just in case they can help. There are so many researchers working on finding a cure, I’m sure it won’t be too long. Good luck and keep your spirits up.

Use this downloadable Amsler grid. It’s important that anyone diagnosed with macular degeneration check their eyes with the Amsler grid daily and report any changes to the eye doctor. This site also has the latest news articles on the disease. By the way, smokers are 2½ times more likely to get macular degeneration—one more reason to kick the habit.


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