Coping with Macular Degeneration
by Nadia Kalantarova, student at Suny Optometry School; graduating class of 2016
What is Macular Degeneration:
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. Damage to the macula, a small spot in our retina needed for sharp, central vision which allows us to see objects straight ahead. Progression varies but is generally slow, blurred area near the central vision is experienced as the disease progresses. The loss of central vision can interfere with simple everyday activities, such as: to see faces, drive, read, write, or do close work, such as cooking or fixing things around the house.
Coping with Macular Degeneration:
Age related macular degeneration is life changing especially if vision loss occurs rapidly. Life style changes such as cutting back on work, volunteering, and recreational activities may be necessary, in addition to greater reliance on family and friends.
Medical treatment is essential as is learning to cope. Here are things you can do:
- Learn more about your vision loss.
- Visit a specialist in low vision and get devices and learning skills to help you with the tasks of everyday living.
- Try to stay positive. People who remain hopeful say they are better able to cope with ARMD and vision loss.
- Stay engaged with family and friends.
- Seek a professional counselor or support group. Your doctor or eye care professional may be able to refer you to one.
Information for family members:
Being there is important for those family and friends diagnosed with ARM, but isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Anger, disbelief, and depression are common emotions felt by those that are diagnosed with ARMD, making it harder to simply be there for them. The following are some ideas family members might consider:
- Obtain as much information as possible about ARMD and how it affects sight. Share the information with the person who has ARMD.
- Find support groups and other resources within the community or social media.
- Encourage family and friends to visit and support the person with ARMD.
- Allow for grieving. This is a natural process.
- Be a companion.
Low vision devices that may be helpful include:
- Reading glasses with high-powered lenses.
- Handheld magnifiers.
- Video magnifiers.
- Computers with large-print and speech-output.
- Large-print reading materials.
- Talking watches, clocks, and calculators.
- Computer aids and other technologies, such as a closed-circuit television, which uses a camera and television to enlarge printed text.
Information provided by National Eye Institute at: