Millions of Americans are currently afflicted with advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the number one cause of vision loss in adults older than 50. AMD can affect everyday life, causing those who have it to have trouble driving, reading and even recognizing faces.
AMD and Vision Loss
While the focus of those with AMD and those who care for them may be on how to solve the problem of these losses, it’s also important to realize the emotional toll that vision loss can have. People suffering from AMD may face the loss of independence if they’re unable to drive or do other everyday activities; many others may lose vision-centric hobbies they’ve enjoyed their entire lives. These losses and struggles can lead to more problems: studies have shown that 10 to 30 percent of patients with AMD also have depression, which is double the normal rate for those 70 or older.
Depression in those who have AMD can be tricky. While some types of depression can be treated with therapy or medications, the circumstances of age-related macular degeneration can cause major changes to a person’s routine and even self-perception. This change can be jarring, as it can change an aspect of one’s life that has remained the same for decades.
Because the depression is likely caused by loss of the ability to perform a lifelong duty or habit, it’s important that patients find ways to cope with this change and adapt to this new reality. For example, if AMD makes cooking more difficult, people who are afflicted can find ways to make the process easier, such as using the microwave rather than stove, or purchasing pre-cut foods instead of whole items. For those who are unable to drive, options like car services, public transportation, or grocery delivery programs can help restore independence. To aid with things like reading, magnifying lenses and technology can help by enlarging print.
AMD and other age-related eye issues are risks for people over the age of 60. If you’re over 60, it’s important to see your optometrist each year for a comprehensive eye exam to detect and treat conditions early. If you have been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, or have a loved one who suffers from AMD, it can help to create a plan and seek out techniques to cope and adapt to the way things may change.
The fear and reality of losing something we take for granted, like vision loss, can be a huge loss. Early intervention, a plan to cope, and empathy can all go a long way toward easing the pain of that loss and adapting to a new reality together. To schedule a comprehensive eye exam for yourself or a loved one, contact Uptown Eye Care.