When she started seeing wavy lines on the alarm clock and on the computer, Sue knew something wasn’t right.
Shortly after experiencing problems with her vision, Sue visited a retina specialist who diagnosed her with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness among people 60 and older.
Sue’s experience with AMD was all too familiar. Her mother, Alice, lost nearly all her eyesight after being diagnosed with wet AMD in her 70’s due to the lack of treatment options at the time.
Sue, now 87, had watched her mother lose both her vision and independence as time went on.
“Watching our mother slowly lose everything important to her in life was heartbreaking. Painting china, driving, even baking,” says Sue.
“It got progressively worse to where she couldn’t live on her own,” Sue’s daughter, Rachel, shares.
Having a front row seat to her mother’s journey to find a treatment for wet AMD – visiting retina specialists, researching online and calling doctors only to hear “there’s nothing we can do” – Sue was all too aware of the emotional rollercoaster of vision loss. But thanks to the revolutionary new treatments developed over the past 20 years, she has more options and a much brighter outlook than her mother did.
AMD is a disease that impacts the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision and is a leading cause of blindness in people aged 60 and over when left untreated. Wet AMD is an advanced form of the disease that can cause rapid and severe vision loss.
Approximately 11 million Americans have some form of macular degeneration, while 1.1 million or 10% of those Americans have wet AMD.
Risk factors of AMD include age, obesity, family history, gender, race and smoking. Symptoms include sudden blurry vision, blind spots developing in the middle of the field of vision, difficulty distinguishing colors and, like in Sue’s case, lines becoming wavy.
Upon her AMD diagnosis, Sue began anti-VEGF injections in her left eye. And in 2019, fueled by her determination to save her sight, she enrolled in a clinical trial for a new, first-of-its-kind ocular implant to continuously deliver her medication in her right eye. Her treatment and the new implant have helped maintain her vision and retain her independence.
I was determined to find out what was out there.
Sue can now continue to enjoy her hobbies of sewing, reading, gardening and keeping up with her 28 grandchildren and great-grandchildren – who lovingly nicknamed her “Min” – via FaceTime and letters.
While her mother died nearly 30 years ago, Sue credits her with the strength to get through AMD. She knows “she would have jumped at an opportunity like this” to improve her vision if she were still alive today. “She told me she’d pray every night for a treatment and that someone would come up with something,” says Sue. “This is a tribute to her.”
She told me she’d pray every night for a treatment and that someone would come up with something. This is a tribute to her.