In 2010, the retina specialist discovered macular degeneration in my left eye. The macula is the central portion of the retina. It focuses central vision for reading, identifying colors, recognizing faces, and seeing fine details.
Only about ten percent of cases — including mine — reach the advanced stage. With advanced macular degeneration, also known as wet macular degeneration, abnormal vessels leak blood or fluid into the macula. There is no cure.
Every four to eight weeks, I get an injection to slow the pace of deterioration. Eye shots aren’t as bad as they sound. The worst part is the metal clamp used to hold my eye open for the shot. You may have seen the device in Clockwork Orange.
In 2010, I could see three or four rows down the eye chart. Nowadays, I sometimes can’t even see the big E at the top. The technician asks me how many fingers she’s holding up. I guess more often than I care to admit.
Except for reading, my vision is fine.
A couple of months ago, I could no longer see the digital alarm clock on my dresser from my bed. A week or two later, reading the menu of what’s on different channels) on television became impossible. In both cases, I’d had no trouble before.
The retina specialist says the changes in my vision are NOT due to my macular degeneration. The retina scans I get every visit have improved in recent months. My regular eye doctor said I’m a little farsighted — but not enough to warrant prescription lenses.
My ability to see is better on some days than others. I carry three pairs of glasses with me. I special ordered 5X magnifiers for reading print materials. The second pair (4X ) I use to see the computer. The weakest (1X) is for distance. I also have regular and 1X sunglasses.
Switching back and forth is a pain. None of my glasses enable me to see the settings on my thermostat or things like the expiration date on milk and other products. Nor am I able to make out faces of people, on television or in person.
My inability to read directions, labels, and even restaurant menus is frustrating. Sometimes, taking a picture with my phone and blowing up the screen large enough to read the text helps. When it doesn’t, I ask someone for help.
My peripheral vision is still good. I drive, but only when I must. Unless it’s an emergency, I never drive at night or in heavy rain.
For now, I can cope. Trials are underway for promising new treatments. Hopefully, one of them will make a difference for me on down the road.