Sight-saving shots deserve celebration – Loveland Reporter-Herald

Friends cringe when they hear about my eye treatments.

“I could never let anyone put a needle in my eye,” they say.

I would have said the same thing — before receiving these sight-saving injections.

This month marks 15 years of eye injections for my wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD.)

I’m celebrating because I’m a medical wimp.

Stepping into a doctor’s office gives me the heebie-jeebies, and I’m phobic about having my blood pressure taken. Don’t even mention blood draws.

One more fear to add to my list of phobias — the size of a grocery list.

“When did this start?” you might ask.

As a psychologist, I might answer, “In my childhood.”

When I was a child, my left eye was a weak spot. So, I wore a patch over my right eye in first and second grade to make the “lazy” left eye work.

Along with being lazy, my left eye had a weak muscle which caused the eye to turn inward. I finally had surgery on the wayward eye a month before Bill and I got married.

So, I wasn’t surprised when — 15 years ago — my bothersome eye stirred up trouble.

While driving, I noticed the configuration of a stop sign, but the word “STOP” was a gray blob.

A visit to my ophthalmologist confirmed that I had wet AMD.

Wet AMD is a condition in which fluid or blood leaks in the eye’s retina, causing a loss of central vision.

Not to be outdone, my right eye soon started leaking. So I had a two-fer.

I learned there are two kinds of AMD. Dry and wet. The wet type is more severe but can be treated by injections that stop the bleeding.

Only about 10% to 15% of those with dry AMD develop the wet kind.

The wet kind hits about 1.7 million people — a population about the size of Philadelphia.

This broad population is confirmed when I step into my retinal eye doctor’s office. It’s packed with folks over 55 or 60.

The treatment procedure goes something like this. After checking my visual acuity and eye pressures, a technician takes photos of my retina.

Then I received a series of numbing drops along with cleansing drops.

I’m sure my chart is flagged “Wimpy Patient — Wants lots of numbing drops.”

Next, I received two very easy numbing injections on the outer sides of both eyes. For some reason, I don’t feel these at all.

When I’m sufficiently numb, the retina specialist injects both eyes with medication that stops the fluid leakage.

I feel minor pressure with these shots but have no desire to flinch. It’s as if the eyes don’t belong to me.

The shots take about five seconds per eye.

This procedure is repeated every month to two months — depending on how my retina behaves.

The good news is that these treatments either improve vision or prevent it from worsening.

A quote from Tim Murray, MD, a Miami, Florida retinal specialist and president of the American Society of Retina Specialists, underscores how new this treatment is. “(When I started practicing) in 1991, every person with wet macular degeneration was going to end up blind,” says Dr. Murray. “Now, 85% to 90% are going to keep or improve the vision that they started with.”

For more information, here is a link provided by the American Macular Degeneration Foundation: bit.ly/3Q0Z5xb.

So, I’ll continue celebrating treatments that let me enjoy all the beautiful summer sights along the Front Range in Colorado.

Dear readers. I hope summer is full of happy viewing.

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