Years ago when I was was only twenty-eight I started experiencing intense headaches everyday and eye-strain. I thought it was a result of stress from college and the massive amount of reading and typing I was doing, but even during the breaks in the semester the pain did not subside. I went to go see an eye doctor to see what the problem was. I figured since both my parents wear glasses it was now my time to get a pair. Sadly, I did need glasses, but there was something else wrong that needed attention in order to maintain my eye health.
How I Was Diagnosed
My doctor did the routine eye test and photographed my eyes. He noticed right away when the results came in that my left eye had some yellowing. This is a sign of macular degeneration. He asked me if anyone in my family had eye trouble. I told him both sides had problems, but my grandma had the most problems since she had diabetes. He asked if I had diabetes. I said no, I’m the opposite, I’m hypoglycemic. He asked about my diet and if I take any supplements and/or prescriptions that could effect my vision. I said I ate the standard American diet minus the normal usage of soda. I don’t drink sodas! He said alcohol could effect my eye health too. I said that really can not be a factor since I rarely drink. He said to come back again in six months for a checkup and see if the yellowing gets worse, or stays the same. He also instructed me to take a paper with lines on it and look at it. He said call right away if the lines get blurry and/or I have holes in my vision. When I went back I told him I had no troubles, but according to the new photo of my eye that he took with a better machine it did show that the yellowing was increasing at a slow rate.
I found out that the options for macular degeneration are somewhat limited unless you have money, or good insurance. If you can not afford the surgery to correct the problem then you are stuck with either alternative medicines, change of lifestyle (diet),over the counter medicines, and vitamin supplements.Thankfully, I do have the type that is treatable by surgery once I have the funds to do so, but there is a type that is currently not treatable with surgery. Make sure once you are diagnosed you get a second opinion.
Right now I just am very careful about what I eat and drink. Certain foods and drinks will stimulate the yellowing. I limit the following foods; white sugars, alcohol, and excess red meat. I eat about seventy percent fruits and veggies. I also try to eat as organic as I can. Ever since the extreme diet overhaul the yellowing has not progressed. My last vision test was great.
My biggest struggles with macular degeneration is compounded by astigmatism and night blindness in the same eye! My eyes do get tired and there are some jobs that I can not apply for since I know it would put too much pressure on my eyes. I do love to read, so this is mentally rough on me because I can not read for long amounts of time like I used to do. I have to break up my reading in chunks to avoid strain and intense headaches, but some books are worth it. The other problem I have is I do enjoy drawing and painting, but now this is limited too. I fear I am going to eventually end up like Edgar Degas and have to resort to blind sculptures. The biggest problem is stressing that something will change and I will lose my vision in that eye. Everything I do right now requires me to have good vision and if that goes I will have to apply for disability. I would also have to change careers. Scary indeed!
What Have I Learned?
My extreme change in diet and exercise have slowed the progression of the yellowing. One does not always need to have immediate surgery when trouble arises. Do your own research and find healthy alternatives for yourself before you go under any knife. Perhaps, if you find an effective enough alternative you will avoid surgery altogether as I have so far. I am now forty years old and have not needed the surgery.