Patient Shares her Sight Saving Journey to Help Others Preserve Vision
Austin Retina Associates patient Debbie Pearson has dedicated her life to caring for others. She is a nurse, author, and senior care advocate, helping families navigate the needs of aging loved ones.
Even though she spends so much of her time helping others, Debbie is keenly aware of the importance of looking after yourself too. She is a champion for keeping up to date with regular wellness exams – and practices what she preaches.
It was through a routine eye exam with one of our board-certified retinal surgeons, Dr. Jose Agustin Martinez, that Debbie discovered she had age-related macular degeneration (AMD), even though she never experienced any symptoms.
What is AMD?
AMD is the leading cause of blindness in adults over 55 years of age in the United States and refers to damage that occurs to the macula, the part of the retina responsible for central vision. The macula is instrumental in your finer, or detailed, vision used for reading, watching TV, and driving. As cells in the macula begin to break down with aging, so can your vision.
AMD is diagnosed by a retinal specialist in one of two forms, dry AMD or wet AMD.
Symptoms for AMD may vary but often include blurred or spotted vision, or dim, faded, or blank areas in your sightline.
How is AMD treated?
If left untreated, AMD can lead to deteriorating and even complete vision loss.
While there is no treatment available to reverse vision loss due to dry AMD, nutritional supplements (Vitamins C and E, Zinc, Copper and Lutein) have been shown to slow the progression of the disease, along with eating plenty of dark, leafy greens. Recently, the FDA approved medications to treat geographic atrophy, an advanced form of dry AMD. These medications offer a promising future for dry AMD patients.
Wet AMD can be effectively treated with intravitreal injections, thermal laser therapy, photodynamic therapy (PDT) or a combination of these treatments. Our retinal specialists will help determine which is the right option to best preserve your vision.
Debbie was able to start treatment for her wet AMD following her diagnosis, and she is grateful that Dr. Martinez caught her condition early. Early detection, and regular eye exams, are the keys to avoiding progressive vision loss.
She says that “one of our greatest senses is our vision, and when you lose it, you lose part of your life.”
Debbie hopes that by sharing her experience it will inspire others to be proactive and take charge of their health. More about Debbie’s story and diagnosis of AMD was recently featured on KXAN. Watch the story here.