Every 10 weeks I get injections in my eyes
MY HEALTH EXPERIENCE: DEIRDRE LARKIN
I WAS first diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common cause of registered blindness in Ireland, four years ago by my eye specialist. I was very aware of the condition as an aunt and uncle of mine had both been registered blind as a result of AMD.
I have been very aware of my eyesight from a young age. I’m 73 now and since I started wearing glasses at the age of eight, I have been to my optician and specialist regularly. I had been seeing my specialist, Mark Cahill at the Beacon Hospital, for a hole in the macula (an oval-shaped spot near the centre of the retina) which he had to operate on to repair.
I had just recovered from the surgery when I started to experience distortion of my sight. Straight lines appeared wavy, as if there were kinks in them. My consultant diagnosed me with AMD in my left eye. There are two types of AMD – wet and dry – and I was diagnosed with wet AMD, which fortunately can be treated with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) injections.
My aunt and uncle had dry AMD which cannot be treated. Shortly after I started treatment for AMD in my left eye, I developed it in my right eye also so I am now getting treatment in both eyes.
Every 10 weeks, I have to get injections in both of my eyes. It’s not nice but it’s over very quickly and Mr Cahill is marvellous at distracting me. I get a local anaesthetic into the eye and valium to prepare me for it beforehand.
Having the injections in my eyes keeps me seeing so it’s not that big of a price to pay. I have stable vision now and I have not had to make any major adjustments to my normal life. I still drive and even driving at night is no problem.
Sometimes, I have difficulty seeing straight lines and cutting along straight lines. This is a bit of a problem because my hobby is making bobbin lace which involves very precise and intricate patterns. However, my lace-making teacher has cleverly devised other methods of making different lace that I can still do.
I used to do a lot of accompanying on the piano but I began to find music difficult and the last time I did it was last year. I still play the piano but I play by ear now.
My AMD has not changed my life in any other way. It has not affected my work as secretary of the Parnell Society which was established in 1986 to stimulate interest in the life, work and times of Charles Stewart Parnell and the Parnell family and to promote Avondale as a centre which reflects Wicklow’s historic association with the Parnell family.
I am responsible for all the administration of the society. I take minutes at all our meetings and am heavily involved in organising the Parnell Summer School each year. I did a paper recently for the society which involved quite a lot of research into old letters and I had no problems reading them.