28 Aug Sophie is 93 and Reads!
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.
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.