Patient Blinded by Wet ARMD Reads with iPad

Patient Blinded by Wet ARMD Reads with iPad

Apple IPAD used as a reader for patients with macular degeneration.My patient, Dick Marquis, has had wet macular degeneration affect both eyes.  While now legally blind, the iPad has allowed him to remain as functional as possible.  I asked him to write this article to serve as an inspiration to others. – Randy

Before Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration (Wet ARMD) struck me, I was an avid reader. My morning ritual was coffee and the Washington Post. I read novels, professional papers, scientific articles, newspapers, magazines, travel guides, whatever.

My left eye went wet first. My right eye, thus far, was unaffected, so I was still able to read well enough without special help.

AMD Affected My Second Eye

About two years later, wet struck my right eye. The effect was mild at first but I was no longer able to read normal print. I was able to obtain “large print” novels at the local library and although this slowed me down, I was still able to read books. Not much else is available in large print but my iMAC, with its zoom feature, provided continued access via the internet to many of the same things as before W-ARMD took hold. But reading in front of the computer for any length of time proved to be too uncomfortable.

Soon vision in my right eye deteriorated and I was no longer able to read large print text.

Unique Features Help Me Read

Enter the iPad. Many Apple applications allow adjustments to larger fixed print sizes, and beyond that, this “reader” possesses its own internal zoom capability that permits enlargement to an almost infinite degree. You can set the zoom level to fit your particular needs and read anything accessible from the internet.

Books, newspapers, magazines, maps, most any app, emails, whatever. The screen is backlit so you can read in low light and in darkness easily. One negative with Apple is glare. Outdoors or in bright light, screen glare can be quite bothersome.

Amazon and the iTunes store are two of many web sites where iPad content is available, some free, most purchasable at reasonable prices. Many other sites are available for direct access, including most magazines and newspapers, and almost anything else on your reading list.

Additionally, the this tablet is mobile so you can take it most anywhere. Once you download an item into iPad’s memory, it goes wherever the iPad and you go.

Kindle vs. iPad

Amazon’s Kindle is another handy device for portable e-reading. It has several fixed font sizes available but no zoom capability. It is smaller than the iPad so it’s a bit more portable. The latest model (Kindle Fire) has many of the same capabilities as the Apple version.

You can buy books for your Kindle on the Amazon web site and, if you have the free Kindle app installed on your iPad, the two devices will sync automatically and the item appears on both devices.

You can also download newspapers and magazines for the Kindle just as you can for the iPad. Kindle’s screen is smaller than the iPad, which is a negative for me since I have to enlarge the print to be able to read, making text lines shorter and more awkward to handle on the Kindle. But it’s cheaper than the iPad and there is no glare with its screen. Its presentation is said to be “eye sensitive” and easier on light-sensitive eyes.

Barnes & Nobles’ Nook is another Kindle-like reading device with similar features.

I prefer the iPad over the others mainly because of its larger screen and its zoom feature, and despite the inconvenience of occasional screen glare. Your iPad won’t do well for you at the beach whereas the Kindle Fire will be fine.

So while ARMD can be debilitating, so long as you maintain a sliver of vision, the iPad or the Kindle or the Nook may help you with keeping in touch with the rest of the world.

Dick Marquis
Fairfax, Virginia

  • Elizabeth
    Posted at 15:35h, 13 June Reply

    Thanks you for this helpful information. It gives me hope I’ll be able to keep on reading.

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.
      Posted at 10:00h, 18 June Reply

      Dear Elizabeth,

      I always admire patients who insist on seeing the glass as half full…iPad or no iPad.


  • Researching eye disease
    Posted at 14:39h, 14 June Reply

    Just beginning my research on eye care and vision disorders, I’ve yet to come a positive story involving macular degeneration. Glad to read this and that this technology could help someone suffering from blindness.

    Thanks for this post!

  • Dan
    Posted at 10:09h, 16 June Reply

    Dear Doc.
    I was told that there is a Lazer technique to deal with black floaters and that this technique is very robust and effective. They say there is no need for surgery. This is done in Southern California. Any comments about this lazer technique? Is it really safe and effective? is it approved by FDA? Many thanks in Advance

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.
      Posted at 10:24h, 18 June Reply

      Dear Dan,

      My comments and feelings;

      1. I am aware of only 3 doctors performing this laser (YAG) though the laser itself is a common device in almost every eye docs’ office.

      2. It is probably not covered by insurance.

      3. To my knowledge, the 3 docs are not retinal specialists.

      4. The YAG laser is a cutting type laser and significant energy can be delivered to the vitreous. The concern is that there is too much risk for a retinal tear developing from the laser.


  • Mike Morris
    Posted at 16:19h, 18 June Reply

    I want to second the thoughts of this post. I am 41, living with wet macular degeneration in both eyes for more than a year now. The ipad has become a staple in my everyday life. In addition to the areas the writer discussed, it also provides apps for voice to text (allowing me to dictate notes or emails) and has a built in reader that transfers all written text on the screen to verbal.
    This device has not only helped save my job, but I’ve been able to demonstrate efficiencies that has moved others in our company towards this technology to improve their work.

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.
      Posted at 09:09h, 26 June Reply

      Dear Mike,

      Thanks for sharing. I am hoping this serves as inspiration and “positive” reinforcement to so many more people!


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    Posted at 03:20h, 24 July Reply

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