macular degeneration special glasses?

squirrelspurSeptember 11, 2008

My elderly (89) MIL's macular degeneration has gotten worse recently. She still lives independently and drives locally in her small town to the grocery and doctor's appts. (passed her drivers test in April but her worsening vision has occurred after that).

She has spoken of some special glasses for her condition that "cost $2,000.00" and "may not work."

I see there are ads for special glasses for her condition - has anyone had any experience with those glasses?

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My dad has Wet Macular Degeneration, which is the worst. He is legally blind and has not driven for years. The eye doctor is the one that told him he had to report his condition to the state. However, if your MIL has dry macular she may be helped by glasses but you need to find out from her eye doctor yourself because that is a lot of money! Her eye doctor will be able to give you answers.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 6:54AM
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I agree with Linda. Speak with your mother's eye doctor first. The doctor may refer you to a low vision specialist. They work with people who have limited vision and know which devices work best for which conditions.

The problem with vision aids is that they require adjusting the way the person sees. My mom also had wet macular degeneration. She'd gotten specialized glasses too. They didn't make much difference because she could not adjust to using them correctly.

Macular degeneration affects central vision, so the person has to learn to tilt & move their head in such a way as to use the remaining peripheral vision. My mother was 90 years old when first diagnosed with the wet macular degeneration, and she simply was not able to learn how to see in a different way. Yet, at the same time, she kept complaining because the doctor could not prescribe a "good" pair of glasses for her.

Your mom might have unrealistic expectations. If her vision had gotten worse, she really should see a doctor and face the possibility of not driving.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 8:02PM
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I am laughing because my dad went through not wanting to learn to "see" differently, but he was younger when diagnosed and therefore adjusted. He even plays bingo at his daddy day care! Gets his head right down next to the card, tilts it and can see enough to place his chip on the correct number........he won the other day and chose a prize for me!LOL!

Get your mil to her doctor and try to explain to her that, well, she may never be able to see good again. Also by taking her to the eye doctor he can do the "dirty" work of yanking her drivers license, saves the family from being the bad guy.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 8:39PM
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Linda, good for your dad. And congratulations on his win! Sometimes it hits you how much is available out there to help our elderly loved ones but by the time they need the help, they don't have what it takes to actually take advantage of new products, techniques, whatever. It's sad.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 10:35PM
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The key word is "degeneration". In the early stages, eyeglasses can help. But its unlikely they will help for very long because her eyes will probably continue to change. My mom's 96 and we've been dealing with this for 17 years. First the glasses were stronger, then we got into "prisms" then there was just no sense in dealing with it. They were increasingly expensive, increasingly ineffective, and never helped for very long. As I recall, even the fanciest ones were about double the price of regular glasses....but nothing like the price you're talking about.

The condition is somewhat common. I'd talk to someone else.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 7:44PM
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Well thanks for the responses. I think she would have trouble adjusting to the glasses based on her response to other new things. She only had the problem in one eye for years but now it has developed in her other eye. We will talk to the eye doctor.
I wonder if a magnifying glass would help with reading at home?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 8:44PM
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There are a lot of aids available but again, you should discuss this with her eye doctor. He/She will know the extent of degeneration and what may or may not help. I wish you luck and will keep you and mom in my prayers.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 9:10PM
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It would be unusual for deterioration not to continue. Part of what you're dealing with is realization/acceptance. By all means consider whatever aids would help, but acknowledge that you'll probably be dealing with a progression.

Strongly urge specific consideration of driving abilities. Many people resist giving up driving until they hurt themselves or someone else. I live in a "retirement-age" community where people who should have given up driving long ago cause damage and injury quite frequently.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 1:42PM
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Yes, unfortunately she is having a hard time w/the realization/acceptance. She has been very lucky and independent for so long, it is hard for her to accept that age is finally catching up with her.
Fortunately, her live-in boyfriend (88) does not have the same vision issues and can drive her places.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 10:01AM
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I have wet in both eyes and have been getting injections on a eight week rotation(one very four weeks). I have been stable at 20/50 left and 20/60 right for about two years. this might be an option for your MIL.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 7:25PM
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"Fred, I'm pretty sure that MD is NOT caused by a parasite."

Fred may be a spammer (and MD may not be caused by a parasite) but he is right about one thing. Eye issues CAN be caused by parasites. Has anyone ever watched that program called "Eaten Alive," on Animal Planet? It talks about River Blindness.

"Onchocerciasis, or River Blindness, is a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) caused by the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus. It is transmitted through repeated bites by blackflies of the genus Simulium. The disease is called River Blindness because the blackfly that transmits the infection lives and breeds near fast-flowing streams and rivers and the infection can result in blindness. In addition to visual impairment or blindness, onchocerciasis causes skin disease, including nodules under the skin or debilitating itching. Worldwide onchocerciasis is second only to trachoma as an infectious cause of blindness.

Links that may be useful:

Monsters Inside Me: River Blindness

    Bookmark   February 12, 2011 at 1:47PM
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I've seen similar products in catalogs and magazines. Sushi is right. Macular degeneration patients need to work closely with their doctor. My mom's opthamologist sent her to a special clinic that works with low vision patients. They offered a plethora of products and services that could be helpful. However, not every product is beneficial for every low vision patient. A lot depends on the extent of damage done to the eye, the person's ability to adjust to new technology, etc. It's definitely not a one-size-fits-all situation. Every person's vision loss is unique and needs to treated as such.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 7:29PM
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"....not every product is beneficial for every low vision patient."

Excellent statement. Different people have different responses to different devices. It's not just the eyes involved. Perceptual abilities vary. We see with our brains. The eyes just gather photons.

Attitude is also a factor. Some people want to see, acknowledge their condition, and work to do as much as they can. Some people are flat-out uncooperative.

With my own mom (99 at this writing) we've been through just about everything from prismatic glasses in the beginning through various magnifiers and last with camera/TV-like reading device on a desk. Most people with the condition change devices as the condition progresses. Just the nature of it.

Mom also has the advantage of having been active in visual astronomy in her earlier days. She still uses "averted vision" to great advantage even at her late stage -- a learned technique that allows light entering the eye to fall on areas of retina outside of the macula. The family joke is that she can't see anything right in front of her but she can see an errant molecule on the floor -- the floor-light coming in at the eye's periphery and being focused on the retina outside of the central-area macula. From previous experience, mom didn't have to learn this. However, it can be easily taught if the brain's still functioning OK.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 1:16PM
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Forgot the link. Go here or google "averted vision" for explanation.

Here is a link that might be useful: averted vision explained

    Bookmark   September 26, 2011 at 1:39PM
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