Imagine if you could no longer read, drive or even recognize familiar faces.
For roughly 2 million older adults living with macular degeneration in the U.S., that is a reality, not an exercise in what if.
Moreover, according to a study from the Thomas Jefferson University, a healthcare research institution in Pennsylvania, about a quarter of those diagnosed with macular degeneration develop clinical depression as their vision worsens and life changes.
The macula is a small point near the center of the retina, which processes light and helps us pick out the fine details in a face or landscape, or read a recipe. Although macular degeneration does not necessarily lead to complete blindness, as visual details blur or distort, activities of daily living become difficult.
“Macular degeneration affects the central vision, while leaving the peripheral vision intact, says Dr. Vicki Walker, chief medical and quality officer at the Good Samaritan Society. “This is what is particularly challenging because exactly what you are focusing on seeing is what you cannot see.”
Experiencing or watching a loved one struggle with macular degeneration is challenging for many reasons. If people and surroundings can’t be seen clearly, common situations may become confusing or scary. If your loved one becomes depressed as vision blurs, he or she may withdraw from activities and life.
It’s important to help your loved one remain engaged in the world. Encourage your loved one to take on small tasks that require the ability to see fine details — things like reading, cooking and even tying shoes or welcoming guests to the home.
If you think macular degeneration might be affecting you or a loved one, visit with your physician to find out for sure and to discuss available treatment options.
Here are tips from the Thomas Jefferson University study and from the National Eye Institute
Click here for more from the National Eye Institute.