It’s critical to understand that an AMD diagnosis doesn’t mean you have to sell your car or start learning braille, but its symptoms can make daily life a little more frustrating.

Living With Macular Degeneration

Written by MacuHealth
Reviewed by Jim Stringham, Ph.D.

Judi Dench resolved to keep working despite her diagnosis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in 2012. The actress, best known for playing M in the James Bond franchise, explained how she works around the disease during an online fundraiser for the London charity Vision Foundation in early 2021.

“I’ve had to find another way of learning lines and things, which is having great friends of mine repeat them to me over and over and over again,” she explained in The Guardian. “So, I have to learn through repetition, and I just hope that people won’t notice too much if all the lines are completely hopeless!”

The Oscar-winner is proof that AMD can affect anyone and how they see the world. The disease affects a small area in the center of the retina known as the macula, the part of our retina that provides clear vision to our direct line of sight. AMD’s symptoms aren’t obvious, but it can significantly affect the quality of life for those afflicted by it. We’ll look at how those with AMD adapt, both physically and mentally.

How Does AMD Affect How You See the World?

It’s critical to understand that an AMD diagnosis doesn’t mean you have to sell your car or start learning braille, but its symptoms can make daily life a little more frustrating. But sometimes, those with AMD may not have anything to worry about.

“Having a diagnosis of early macular degeneration may never impact [a patient’s] vision in a negative way,” explained Dr. Timothy Murray on the podcast Retina Health for Life from the American Society of Retina Specialists.

In some cases, vision can deteriorate slowly, with a slight change in color or a dark point in the middle of your field of view. Some other symptoms of AMD may include a blurred spot in the center of your vision, reduced ability to detect objects from their background or straight lines that appear wavy.

As eyesight declines  patients should make some adjustments around their homes to make things safer. This could include using high-contrast stairs, placing dark light switch covers over bright walls, or adjusting the brightness on indoor lighting. There are tools such as eyeglasses and telescopic implants that can magnify words for easier reading. Visual therapists can make recommendations based on your sight level.

Adapting Emotionally to AMD

Adjusting your life to any disease can be stressful and infuriating. For some, being diagnosed with AMD can be isolating and lead to bouts of anxiety and depression. A study in the American Journal of Ophthalmology showed that among the 300 patients with wet AMD and 100 of their caregivers surveyed, 89% of patients showed anxiety. In addition, 91% who experienced depression were not receiving appropriate emotional and psychological treatment. Many patients they spoke to stated they feared going blind and worried about the effectiveness of their treatment.

Your diagnosis isn’t something to feel embarrassed about or keep to yourself. Ask your doctor for information about any support groups or online communities that can provide the emotional help you need and serve as a resource on living with AMD. Chances are you’ll feel less alone, and you’ll find new ways to adjust. And don’t be afraid to speak with a professional therapist about coping with this change, and be forthcoming with your family about what you need.

Will Exercise or Changing My Diet Help?

A brisk walk, bike ride or any other low-to-moderate aerobic activity will not only boost your mood but can reduce stress and increase the level of antioxidants to help combat free radicals, which are linked to AMD.

A healthier diet can also help with AMD symptoms. Start preparing meals with colorful fruits and leafy greens rich in antioxidants known as carotenoids. They’re shown to replenish the macular pigment inside the eye, which helps to manage AMD symptoms. One way to ensure that the body receives the proper amount of carotenoids is to take a high-quality supplement like MacuHealth, which is clinically proven to improve visual health and performance.

Exercise, diet and a macular health supplement are part of a great strategy to extend good vision for years.  Be sure to speak with an eye care professional to develop your lifestyle-based strategy for dealing with AMD. By taking action, you can make a significant difference.