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Dr. Rick
Dr. Rick, Board Certified MD
Category: Eye
Satisfied Customers: 10553
Experience:  Ophthalmology since 1994 with Retina sub-specialty interest
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My mother was getting eye injections for macular degeneration

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My mother was getting eye injections for macular degeneration until entering the hospital with congestive heart failure on March 12 of this year. She is now in the Memory Unit of a nursing home in NE Iowa. I have made an appointment for her to see an optometrist to determine if he can help her to see better with glasses, and whether she needs to see an eye specialist again. Mom is 82 years old. She is very poor of hearing and does not like to use her hearing aids, although the Home has been very helpful in encouraging her to put them in each day. Her sight is about all she has left, as her only activity or enjoyment seems to be observing others as they work, etc., around her. Yet, at the time she was getting the injections regularly, they were very traumatic for her and I often wondered if it was really worth what she went through. Due to her dementia problems she does not remember what is going on from one time to the next, so the whole process, reason for doing it, cause of the problem, etc., must be gone through each time. My real question is, is it worth putting her through this? How fast is she apt to go blind of she doesn't have the injections? It is only in one eye, but it is her historically "good" eye.
Hi. I'm Dr. Rick and I have two decades of ophthalmology experience. I'm online and happy to answer your question today. I am a retina specialist.

First of all, let me make this clear: Your mother will not go blind from her macular degeneration. Yes. It can, and probably will, destroy her central vision and make is so she can not read, see the TV etc but it will not damage her peripheral, or "getting around" vision.

When we say people go blind from macular degeneration we mean "legally blind". This means that there best visual acuity is less then 20/200 (many times at the counting fingers level) but it does not mean that they can not see with their side vision. It is just that they can not do the usual things we associate with seeing, such as reading, driving, watching TV, or seeing faces.

So. If her dementia is advanced, the injections and travel to the ophthalmologists office etc have been traumatic for her -- and she has missed all her injections since March -- it very will may be that putting her though all that stress is not worth it.

But, that is something only you -- with the help of her ophthalmologist -- can decide.

I would consul you to not take your mother to an optometrist but rather, if possible, back to her treating ophthalmologist. This doctor could not only test her for glasses and vision improvement, but evaluate the current state of her macular degeneration, mental status, physical health etc, and help you to make this very difficult decision for your mom with the best data in hand.

Does this make sense to you?

I hope this information was helpful for you. But I do work for tips so I want to make sure you are happy with me before rating me. If you have another question on this or a related issue feel free to fire away. You may also receive an email survey after our chat, if you don’t feel that I have earned a “10” rating in all areas, please let me know what I can do to meet your expectations.

Thanks in advance,

Dr. Rick MD FACS
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