Sophie is 93 and Reads!

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Sophie is 93 and Reads!

Treatment for wet ARMD allows wet ARMD patients to read.  Randall Wong, M.D.This summer I’m celebrating another patient of mine.  SR is also a transplant from Florida, just as my oldest patient “Donald.”  As with Donald, SR also suffers from wet macular degeneration.

SR is now 93 years old and moved from FL to the Washington, D.C. area about 2.5 years ago.  She lives independently, reads daily and has a great daughter who accompanies her to every appointment.

Wet ARMD

I first met SR 18 months ago when she was diagnosed with wet ARMD in her left eye.  As often is the case, she noted subtle changes in her reading vision in the left eye.  She was examined by a good friend who referred her to me for treatment.

In short, we were successful in treating SR’s wet macular degeneration with a series of intravitreal injections of Avastin.  Vision in her left eye did improve and stabilize after the initial series of 3 Avastin injections.

Right Eye Bleeds

In October, 2012, SR called complaining of acute loss of vision in her right, better eye.  She could not read.  She had sustained a large hemorrhage from wet macular degeneration in her right eye.

While the left eye had been stabilized, she couldn’t read with it due to advanced ARMD.  The right eye was now in jeopardy of the same fate.

Most concerning to SR was the acute loss of vision.  The large hemorrhage occurred underneath the retina, physically blocking light and making it impossible for her to see or read.

My plan was to treat the right eye with Avastin, too.  Blood underneath the retina is benign.  By treating the source of the bleeding with Avastin, the abnormal blood vessels should shrink up and disappear.  The accumulated blood underneath the retina would absorb…but with time.

Fortunately, SR’s reading vision has returned.  We now plan on injections every 3 months to maintain status quo, that is, she’s getting injections to prevent recurrence.  I’ve found that once the ARMD is controlled, so-called “maintenance therapy” works quite well when give 3 months apart.

What Does This Mean?

As with Donald, SR has one good eye and one bad eye.  Both have wet ARMD and each is able to read, albeit with one eye.

It is important to note that our aging population does not have to suffer vision loss, regardless of age.  These are my oldest patients.  Both are able to continue to live rather independently and maintain their visual interests and hobbies.  I’d like to add that my personal observation over the years has been that older patients who remain “sharp” do so by keeping mentally active.  Reading remains just as important for the aged as the younger generation.

Seeing and reading is a huge component to remaining independent, perhaps not physically, but independent thought may indeed be the most important attribute to keeping us going as we age.

I’ve now written about 2 of my oldest patients; Donald and SR.

Each has a tremendous support group, but each also is proof that we needn’t succumb to the blindness from macular degeneration.

If you are reading this and have ARMD, I”d like to hear from you.  If you are a child of someone with ARMD and are fearful about the days ahead, Donald and Sophie should give you great hope and inspiration for your mom or dad.

 

6 Comments

  1. Carol Harris says:

    Loved the article on SR and I’m so happy for both of your elderly patients. They give us younger ones hope. Since I last posted to your blog, my left eye has stabilized and will be checked again in 3 months and my right eye is getting somewhat better, still getting Lucentis in the right eye, but my specialist has spread the shots out a little more. I am seeing Hope!!! I love your blog and have learned a lot about diseases of the eye from you and your site. Keep up the great work. I’m glad there are doctors out there that do this to help educate your (and other doctor’s) patients. Education is the key!!! Thanks again for all you do!!!

  2. Sam says:

    Hi Dr Wong. I stumbled across your website and am considering coming to see you at some point in the future.

    I’m a 36 year old male with high myopia (-12/-14). I had an RD in my R eye 5 years ago that was repaired w scleral buckle. The surgery was sucessful and i could see 20/20 after so i am lucky. However, my eye responded negatively to steriod drops which caused a tiny bit of damage on my optic nerve so i have since been on glaucoma meds to keep pressure under 20 to prevent further damage. There has been no further damage for 5 years so things are stable and my vision is excellent. I do however have extensive floaters in my R eye that have been driving me nuts.

    3 months ago my L eye started going though the PVD process which caused a small tear in my retina that was caught quickly and repaired with cryotherapy and gas bubble. My eye healed very well. This has caused an increase in floaters in my L eye.

    Now that my left eye has a lot of floaters in it too, i am finding it harder to cope with my R eye. Plainly put, both my eyes are littered with debris and this significantly interferes with my life. I have therefore started to consider surgery.

    My questions are as follows:

    1) Would i be a good candidate for FOV given my history above?
    2) You have mentioned the risk of infection to be around 1 / 10,000 or perhaps lower. When i google the risk, sometimes i find sites saying it is 1 / 2,000, etc. Why the big difference?
    3) If PVDs have already occured in eyes, does this make the surgery easier and reduce some risks?
    4) If someone is not in a rush to get this surgery now and can wait, should they wait for the 27 guage instrumentation?

    Thanks for your time.

  3. This is the most common type of macular degeneration. In the early stages, changes in vision may go unnoticed, but central vision slowly worsens over time. You may notice wavy lines and blank spots in the center of your vision. Colors may look dim. There is no way to restore this vision loss, but dry AMD should be monitored because it can turn into wet macular degeneration.

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