Myopic Macular Degeneration
I was born short-sighted (-5.0). Never much of a problem, I needed glasses whilst young and wore contact lenses when in my teens. I never thought about my eyesight as being under threat. I just thought that I was short-sighted- a pain but not a problem.
In my mid 40s now - 18 months ago I noticed distortion in my right eye - I went to the optician who said it was post vitreous detachment (PVD) never worry about it - "it will go away".
6 months later I noticed the same distortion in my left eye- I went to the optician expecting the same diagnosis. Then like a slap on the face the optician say you have a eye disease and need to see the eye consultant straight away.
Three weeks of tests, waiting, results, waiting, treatment, finally!
In the three weeks I had lost basically all my centre vision - every day it got progressively worst. I was going blind - and nothing was being done about it. The internet was little comfort as I ever increased the font to read. I stared at pictures of the kids burning the faces into my mind so I would never forget. I put together the kids Christmas presents whilst I could. My hand in front of my face had turned into a pink webbed flipper. I was never so low.
Lucentis treatment followed - two injections in both eyes. The fluid behind the eyes dissipated and I was left with scars on the retina. But the vision returned - I can do all things normal - thank God. A little distortion and a stronger prescription but my vision is fine. Consultant doesn’t expect it to return.
I have an every day (almost) diet of prayer, greens (kale and spinach), vitamins, fish and antioxidants. All these help me believe that he is right. I train at the gym regularly - trying to keep as healthy as possible. 10 months now so far so good.
If the vision stays like this I will have a full and normal life. If the disease returns - then I have had the chance to get use to it.
The future is bright I believe - cures are only a few years away.
Poor eyesight doesn’t make me less of a person I have come to realise, only if I let it.
32 yr old Energetic Artist - Myopic Macular Degeneration
(Cream Ridge, NJ, USA)
Well, let's start off with my life. I've never taken my eyes for granted, enjoying every beautiful sight there is to see on a daily basis.
Six years old was when I had been given my first pair of glasses and was told my eye sight would level off in my mid-twenties. Well, needless to say, I'm still waiting for that.
When I was thirteen I knew I wanted to be a professional artist and enrolled in adult oil painting classes, I love every kind of artistic outlet there is, but painting has always been my first passion.
In high school I was accepted into a program at a community college to experience art school. I had a terrific time & actually enrolled in the fall of 1997. Each semester I took between 18-21 credits, filling my life up with a ton of wonderful new knowledge about my up & coming career in the art world.
Just a month away from graduation, my son was born. So everything was put on hold until he & his little brother were in school. By that time I raised them by myself with little help from family & friends.
So in the fall of 2007, I enrolled in a beautiful university to finish my Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree & K-12 teacher certification. I was so excited at a bright future. Of course there was always freelance artwork to do, and scarves to knit for the kids. But an important aspect that has been just as important as art, has been my love of reading. I'm never caught without a book. My first job had been in the local library.
Summer of 2012 rolls in with an interesting a few surprises, and Labor Day approaches with a much needed BBQ w/ the kids. But as I'm at the grocery store, a forty minute ride from home, I notice my right lens must be smeared, because I can't see through it. After cleaning it off and loading the truck, I asked my son if anything was in my eye.
I started to really worry, thinking maybe my allergies were acting up or I got something in it. I was having a very difficult time driving home and had no one to call for help.
After a tense 45 minute ride home, I showered thinking I could wash away whatever was wrong. I'm only 32 and couldn't imagine what I'd done to have this happen so suddenly, but then after recalling a conversation w/ my optometrist a few years prior. I remembered he said because of my high myopia, I could have a retina tear.
So, of course being on Labor Day, my primary & optometrist were enjoying time off, and I drove to the local ER to get checked out. After 6 hours and no available optometrist there either, I was sent home.
There were horrible visions that kept going through my mind of things that could happen until I received help. The following morning I went in to be told by my optometrist that I had blood in the back of my eye & needed to see a retina specialist ASAP.
So, two days after this started, I was in the retina specialists chair when tests were completed & he told me my right eye had wet macular degeneration caused by my myopia. Maybe my vision would improve, but I'd come back in a few weeks & be rechecked. Would this happen in my other eye?
I felt like I was sucker punched. I couldn't understand what to think or tell my kids. They had started school and I couldn't even see to fill out the yearly paperwork that comes with it. Work was out of the question.
I was dizzy from the visual changes and bumping into the walls & chairs. No lifting meant I had to rely on the little help the kids would give me. No driving meant a depending for rides to the store. I couldn't work on art or read.
By the time the second visit rolled around, I felt like my eye had improve alot, but wasn't perfect. Miracles do happen, I was told the bleeding had stopped and was healed, with only the laquer cracks showing. In another few weeks I'll be rechecked.
I certainly feel very blessed that this healing occurred, and do realize it can happen again. But now, I'm much more prepared for the challenges to face when it does. And yes, I still have a spare eye to use and the ability to adapt when it does so I can still enjoy things I do.
It all depends on your reaction to this eye condition. Things can be overcome, with time and patience you can live a life that is full.
Currently, I'm back to reading, knitting scarves, enjoying the fall colors and just having a good time with my kids.
Myopic Macular Degeneration
I have been myopic nearly my whole life. I started wearing glasses in the first grade and have had to upgrade my prescription nearly every year.
I wore hard contact lenses from the time I was 12 years old until my early thirties. Initially, the optometrist believed hard lenses would slow the progression of myopia through my growing years.
It did not. In my early thirties, I switched to soft lenses for comfort, giving up some clarity that the hard lenses offered. Within a few months, my vision changed drastically: 4 diopters.
My optometrist thought it was interesting that by changing the lens from hard to soft that my natural lens changed. I was horrified. I hoped that would be the end of my vision changes, but they continued. I currently have a glasses prescription of - 17 diopters.
Optometrists and ophthalmologists often warned me of the symptoms of detached retina: floaters and flashes of light, but never mentioned macular degeneration.
I first learned of macular degeneration November 2009. I had noticed that my left eye was not seeing well and had intended to make an appointment after the Thanksgiving holiday. I thought that maybe my prescription needed to be updated, or perhaps like my older sister, I was showing signs of cataracts.
Just before Thanksgiving I noticed vertical lines, like door frames, did not appear straight. I was getting concerned but I had a house full of company. By the time I saw an optometrist the following Monday, I could only see a corner of the big letter E on the eye chart. The optometrist mentioned that I might have choroidal neovascularization and recommended a retinal specialist.
I had no idea what he was talking about. After doing some research on the internet, I found out it was macular degeneration. I watched the video showing the progression of the disease and the loss of central vision. I was devastated: I knew I was going blind.
To make matters worse, my husband was leaving the country for two weeks and I was going to have to rely on neighbors I barely knew to get me to my next eye appointment. Two months earlier we had just returned to the US after an extended stay in Europe and I was hoping to find a job and continue my career as an engineer.
I saw a retinal specialist on Friday of the same week who gave me the fluorescein angiogram, OCT to confirm I had wet macular degeneration in the left eye and dry macular degeneration in the right.
He told me my symptoms were like age related macular degeneration, but the cause was the elongation of the eye (myopia) resulting in the thinning of the choroid layer.
I received my first injection of Avastin that day. I received 3 more injections every six weeks with increasing improvement in my left eye. I could see 20/40 on the chart again but there was still distortion and haziness.
Eight weeks after my fourth injection I had more leakage and reduced vision 20/400. My specialist tried 3 more injections of Avastin with only moderate success.
Hoping to get better results we tried Lucentis: eight injections at four week intervals. After no noticeable improvement, my doctor changed back to Avastin. During this time, my eye was regularly tested with the flourescein angiogram because the leakage was continuing.
My vision is now 20/40 in my left eye but there is scarring, some distortion, and only the smallest window of clarity. I can only see one letter at a time on the eye chart. My right eye does most of the work for reading and driving.
During this time I have had more floaters develop in the good? eye that are large enough to prevent me from clearly seeing faces, road signs, or printed material for two to three long blurry seconds. It was very scary to drive for months after the right eye became unreliable because of the floaters.
Night driving has become increasingly difficult. I only feel comfortable driving at night within a few miles from my home. I also avoid driving in city traffic and take frequent breaks if driving for long periods of time. Limited driving has limited my ability to find a professional job.
We live in suburban area and to reach the city and employment opportunities I would have to drive a heavily traveled interstate. I currently have a retail job a few miles from my home that pays slightly better than an hourly wage. Giving up my career and the financial impact to my family has been the hardest part.
Now I am 51 years old and I wonder how long? What next? I find it ironic that I have worked hard to eat right, exercise, and watch my weight so that I beat the family history of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes and to be able live a long active life. Now myopic macular degeneration is changing my future.
It has been a lonely road. No one truly understands your fear, the pain of the injections, and day-to-day frustrations of just trying to see.
I am an avid reader of WebRN-MacularDegeneration.com website. It has been an invaluable source of information and comfort to know that I am not alone. I am trying to follow the macular degeneration diet, take the AREDS 2 vitamins, and stay up-to-date with all new developments, as well as prepare for more vision loss in the future.
I have stopped crying and worrying over the future. I thank God each day for the gift of sight and try my best to appreciate all that I have. I laugh at some of my misperceptions from my blurred visions or poor field perception.
I drive with more deliberation, care, and greater stopping distance to make up for my lack of depth perception and blurred seconds of vision.
I have found large print books at the library (a real treasure) and read regular print with a really bright light! I am still hoping some career opportunity will come my way, but until then I'll stop and smell the roses.
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