Often the first question a person will ask when they’ve just been diagnosed with macular degeneration, is “How fast will my macular degeneration progress?” The doctor usually gives a vague answer which usually instills even more anxiety in the patient. However, there’s a good reason why the doctor may be evasive. It’s because every person progresses differently and in fact, each eye may progress differently.
There are so many variables with this retinal condition. The main one being what kind of macular degeneration does the person have. Dry age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common. Vision changes in the dry form are slower and more insidious – it may take months or years before one notices that colors are less vivid, one’s vision has become blurry or a grey or blank spot has developed in the middle of one’s vision. The wet form – wet age related macular degeneration produces a more sudden and severe vision loss – trees or fences look crooked and reading or recognizing faces is difficult because of this dark spot that sits right in one’s central vision. This sudden loss of vision is the result of tiny, fragile, and weak blood vessels leaking fluid which drowns or destroys photoreceptor cells – the cells that give us our sight.
A person can live with the dry form for many years with gradual changes in vision, and may never develop wet AMD. Or he/she may have one eye with the dry form and the other eye may become wet. Or both eyes may progress to wet AMD. These vision changes may come about tomorrow or years from now. Right now it’s not all that clear as to which eyes will remain stable and which eyes will become wet. So now you can better understand why it is not possible for the eye doctor to predict what will happen to your eyes.
This anxiety or unpredictability can be channeled in a way that can be productive and helpful. One can assess his lifestyle and diet to see what positive changes can be made to be a healthier person. A person can become more educated about this retinal disease and learn about the latest treatments, research and studies. Others become aware of the many different vision aids that are available and feel more prepared and confident about the future.
Find out what others have experienced who have AMD. Readers from all over the world have shared their stories of living with macular degeneration – from being diagnosed to explaining their vision changes and the ways they are coping with AMD. You will find their stories enlightening, encouraging and uplifting:
Leslie Degner, RN, BSN
Better Health for Better Vision