Decreased vision impacts your quality of life. Macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy are the two leading causes of loss of vision in adults. Macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy can impact your quality of life.
Your quality of life , besides visual acuity, is also used to measure the outcome, or success, of a treatment. There are many ways to “measure” visual acuity, but in the end, the visual acuity is just a number. It is objective. 20/20 is a number.
Your quality of life is subjective. It is how you, the patient, feel about your vision. This is the most important aspect (and most troubling) in assessing “success.”
Are You Able to do The Things You Want to Do? Quality of life, or QOL, is not something that is usually discussed per se with your doctor, but we make many decisions based upon your vision and how it impacts your ability to do the things you want to do.
Hobbies, Fun Stuff If your vision isn’t good enough to allow you to enjoy your hobbies or other activities you enjoy, then every attempt should be made to improve your vision.
Driving and Work Most patients that I see that have some visual loss are very worried about losing their driver’s license. It is probably the biggest concern in patients that have lost their vision due to diabetic retinopathy or macular degeneration. The second biggest fear is making mistakes on the job because you can’t see.
Activities of Daily Living Simply put, these are activities that we all do, everyday, yet take for granted. Activities of daily living include eating, walking around the house, brushing teeth, writing a check, etc. If you can’t see, you might cause physical harm to yourself and others. You might trip and fall over furniture, burn your hand pouring coffee, fall down the stairs, set the house on fire because you couldn’t adjust the stove, etc.
From an eye doctor’s perspective, every attempt is made to get to see “20/20.” It is a number, but at this level it is assumed you should have the level of vision to allow a full, super duper, quality of life.
Patients that have some decreased vision, should maximize their visual potential if they feel there quality of life could be enhanced with improved vision. This could be as simple as changing glasses, considering cataract surgery, etc. Many changes in vision can be reversed, for example, successful cataract surgery.
Patients with macular degeneration should be seen periodically, but especially if there is recent loss of vision, including distortion. The earlier you are diagnosed, and, if possible, treated, the better we can preserve your vision and your quality of life.
Patients with diabetic retinopathy have to be seen regularly. We don’t want to wait for visual changes and the vision does not correlate with the degree of diabetic retinopathy. Remember with diabetes, we want to diagnose and treat the diabetic retinopathy before there is any change in your vision………………and your quality of life.
Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Ophthalmologist, Retina Specialist