Bad News – Yet Another Eye Condition

At the age of 66, I was diagnosed with age related macular degeneration (AMD). My dry AMD rapidly progressed to the intermediate stage. Two years later I was diagnosed with chronic dry eye.

Unwelcome news

I visit my retinal specialist every six months to have scans to check my dry AMD. For the past two years my vision has remained stable. I had no reason to expect any bad news at my regular visit in August.

The scans were performed, and my vision was checked using the eye chart. The doctor gave me the good news first: my AMD was unchanged. Then came the bad news: my vision had worsened with my “good eye,” now worse than the one with intermediate AMD.

My first question was to ask if it was related to my chronic dry eye condition. Now usually your retinal specialist would tell you they don’t treat dry eye. I am so blessed to have found a wonderful retinal specialist. He is a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) with a speciality in diseases of the retina. He is always willing to discuss my chronic dry eye condition, unlike previous retinal specialists I have seen.

The explanation from my doctor

My doctor said two things were to blame for the changes in my vision. As I suspected, the chronic dry eye was one factor.

I do all I know to do to manage the symptoms. I faithfully use my Bruder microwaveable eye mask 10 minutes daily. I use lubricant eye drops as needed each day and gel drops or eye ointment at night. I am careful to protect my eyes from sun and wind exposure. I wear Cocoon wraparound sunglasses any time I am outdoors. I can only conclude that I need to find a dry eye specialist to explore other treatment options.

The second thing my doctor mentioned was the presence of floaters. In case you don’t know about floaters, I will explain in lay language. They often appear as black or gray specks, cobwebs, or squiggly lines moving across the eye. In my case I have seen all three. Most of the time floaters are harmless and considered a normal part of aging. Our brains do an amazing job of ignoring them. I usually notice them when looking up or against a white background.1

Dealing with floaters

The most unusual floaters were experienced while I was driving. Squiggly lines appeared and dashed across my line of vision. I was so distracted, it was hazardous getting home. Most of my floaters appear as strands of cobwebs that appear and sink to the bottom of my eye.

My retinal specialist told me I have so many floaters in my right eye that they may require surgery. He explained that as my AMD progresses, the floaters would further darken my vision. A standard treatment for removing floaters is by a vitrectomy. By removing the vitreous fluid from the eye and replacing it with another fluid, the floaters can be eliminated.2

Next steps

I plan to seek a dry eye specialist in the future. The rural area I live in makes that a difficult task. I can expect to drive 100-plus miles one way to visit a doctor.

Having AMD, chronic dry eye, and floaters makes driving a challenge. I do not plan on any surgery for floaters unless it becomes absolutely necessary.

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