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Is a telescopic implant the answer for AMD?

sunset on lake
Eye implant diagram
The implantable telescope technology reduces the impact of the central vision blind spot from advanced macular degeneration. The telescope implant projects the objects the patient is looking at on to the healthy area of the light-sensing retina undamaged by the disease. — UCDavis

My mother’s biggest lament with her macular degeneration is not so much that she cannot see, but that she cannot see enough to do what she loves.

My mother is a quilter. A lifelong seamstress, she turned to quilting in her 60s.  After mastering traditional techniques, such as in the quilt to the left, turned to mostly experimental types of quilting and in her mid-80s was on the road to discovering fiber art. That road however, came to a dead end when her macular degeneration progressed stealthily and quickly. Her eye doctors assured her she would never go completely blind.

This was little comfort when she could no longer see to pick out material, thread needles, cut her intricate shapes and put everything together at the machine and by hand.

So reading about UC-Davis’ telescopic implant was encouraging on two fronts. One, it was approved by the FDA in 2010 as “the only medical/surgical option available that restores a portion of vision lost to the disease,” and two, that Virginia Bane, the artist depicted in the press release is 89. So, for those who think it’s too late, it just may not be.
Continue reading “Is a telescopic implant the answer for AMD?”

iPads are not just cool, they also can help some with AMD keep in touch with the world

my mom with AMD using her iPad
my mom with AMD using her iPad
Mom using her iPad

Since my mother developed age-related macular degeneration (AMD), she has been trying everything to see. A $3,000 plus reading machine did not help her. In fact, she’s tried two of them. Handheld magnifiers help a bit, but can be exhausting. But one day we were sitting on the couch and she saw my iPhone.  She asked what it was and I told her it was my iPhone. I showed it to her, not really expecting that she’d be able to see it, but I thought she’d get a kick out of Siri. All of a sudden she said, “Why can I see this?”

 “If you can see this, you can probably see my iPad,”  I said.

I ran and got my iPad and she was in heaven.  Within a week we were at the Apple store buying her one. She can play solitaire, get her email, watch Netflix, keep track of her stock and watch her news stations and cable shows. Is it perfect? No, it’s not. But it is better than nearly anything else she’s tried, and unlike just helping her read documents, the iPad keeps her in touch with the world.

I wasn’t sure if this was an anomaly or not until I heard about a recent study presented as a poster at the  American Academy of Ophthalmology’s 2012 meeting that showed that backlit devices such as the iPad helped people with moderate vision loss such as age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) read more easily and comfortably. Continue reading “iPads are not just cool, they also can help some with AMD keep in touch with the world”

Life with June: When the lights began to dim

sunset on lake
Navigating the gathering darkness

I’ll never forget when Mom’s condition first began to be noticeable. Her eyes just could not adjust in dim or low light. We were in a local department store and because she didn’t like escalators, she said she’d meet me upstairs and she’d take the elevator.

This didn’t strike me as odd. We’d split up while shopping a million times in our lives. But today was different.

When we caught up with each other upstairs I saw something in my mother’s face I’d never seen before — fear. She was visibly shaken. The elevator was dark. The buttons were difficult to see and Mom had a difficult time figuring everything out. She got very disoriented.

I knew then that our life was changing but wasn’t quite sure how. Continue reading “Life with June: When the lights began to dim”