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April 15, 2013
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Vail Daily column: Living with age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is an age-related reduction in one's central vision, which can make it difficult to work, drive, etc. You may not go blind from AMD, but you must learn to adapt to the loss of your central vision through a number of changes in your lifestyle.

For people with wet age-related macular degeneration, studies at King's College London and the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital are finding that there may be a reprieve from monthly doctor's visits and injections. A new radiation therapy developed by Oraya is showing signs that it may significantly reduce a patients' need for doctor's visit and injections.

Below are some suggested changes that can make for a positive outcome, rather than allowing AMD to be a total negative experience.

As with many challenges in our lives, a positive and open attitude can be the most important change you can make. Knowing that others have learned to live with AMD may allow you to adapt more readily to the effects of AMD, but some specific changes can go a long way in helping adjust to the loss of your central vision.

For example:

• Increase the amount of contrast in your home (i.e., white plates on dark tablecloth, paint door steps white, use contrasting canisters from your countertop color, etc.).

• As reading becomes more difficult, use aids (for example, large faced print books/mags, watches that talk, magnifiers to enhance what you are looking at, etc.).

• Reduce glare in your home (cover shiny hardwood floors with rugs, utilize sheer curtains rather than having no coverings over windows, find positions in rooms that reduce glare from any light source, etc.).

• Increase indoor lighting sources to compensate for the reduced vision due to AMD.

• Use contrast labels on important items (such as medications to make them more readable).

• Keep hallways and walkways open and uncluttered to reduce the potential for falling.

• Consider placing handrails in areas that would normally not have them (for example, along hallways).

• Use computer systems that either allow you to use voice recognition systems or enlarged screen images

• Increase use of corrective prescription lenses.

• Arrange household furniture so it does not interfere with flow of traffic.

• Seek counseling to learn how to best cope with this condition.

• Seek occupational therapy to learn more about adaptive equipment that will reduce the challenges of AMD.

• Seek out support groups to avoid feeling all alone in living with AMD.

People live with AMD every day, and they live very full lives! It takes a great deal of understanding, adaptation, and support to make the transition from full vision to partial vision, yet, people all over the world are successful in meeting this particular challenge..

AMD.org is a great source of information for those who wish to do research. Here in the Vail Valley, Dr. Ehrlich at Eye Center of the Rockies may also provide information.

Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels in Eagle County. He may be reached at www.visitingangels.com/comtns or at 970-328-5526


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The VailDaily Updated Apr 15, 2013 10:51PM Published Apr 15, 2013 10:50PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.