Three Types of Wet AMD

Well, the kitchen floor is now mopped. Took a deep breath and went back into the housekeeping fray after that last page. How do people get motivated for that sort of thing every day?

With a nod to our ‘wet’ readers, I am going to tackle an article on how to image different types of neovascularization. Not sure I am going to get very far because I never even ‘knew’ there were different types of choroidal neovascularization.

First off, to the article talking about imaging retinal angiomatous proliferation. Huh? Back to EyeWiki.

Choroidal neovascularization starts in the choroid. It erodes through the RPEs and results in chorioretinal anastomosis. Anastomosis? Lovely. Anastomosis is the connection of two vessels that were not previously connected. Sort of like a shunt. Got it? Good; moving on.

Retinal angiomatous proliferation is a process that happens ‘backwards’. It starts in the retina and progresses into the subretinal areas. It eventually connects the retina and choroid by forming an anastomosis. That is a connection where there is not supposed to be one. See previous paragraph.

Retinal angiogenesis proliferation has been called type 3 neovascularization. This begs the question: what are types 1 and 2? Type 3 is rare with 10% to 20% of people with wet AMD having this type of disease. This may be a good thing because the article lists all sorts of complications that are common in type 3 but rare in the other two types.

So now I have to do a little more digging and find neovascularization types 1 and 2. Back to EyeWiki where I discovered this: In type 1 the new veins are below the RPE layer. In type 2 the neovascularization passes through the RPE layer and compromises the neurosensory retina. That means it gets far enough to directly mess with the photoreceptors. Type 1 is hidden and type 2 is classic.

As far as treatment is concerned, ResearchGate.net (7/15) suggests type 1 can be treatment resistant. My guess – please note this is a guess – would be this is because type 1 is ‘buried’ in lower regions of the eye and anti-VEGF may have a harder time getting to it. That buried nature of type 1 – and another article – makes me think what we are talking about here is the occult type. Saw that classification before. Just needed to make the connection. Dawn does occasionally breaks over Marblehead.

Anyway, anti-VEGF treatments are still first choice although I am starting to see references to photodynamic therapy (“cold laser”) and even surgery. Maybe we should look into that, too.

Type 2 is the classic type. My reading suggests ‘shots’ are the treatment of choice there.

And as far as type 3 is concerned, it appears that in spite of the complications reported, type 3 can be treated rather successfully. Anti-VEGF injections do the trick, sometimes even on the first try.

So there you are the three types of wet AMD. Learn something new everyday.

written October 24th, 2017 Continue reading “Three Types of Wet AMD”

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This and That

Hey, guys! No idea what I am going to write about. I will just start and see what comes out. I have an hour to kill before going to teach class.

Told you I renewed my driver’s license yesterday. That was sort of stressful. I tried to do everything ‘right’ so I did not end up ‘outing’ myself. I would not want to try to pass as fully sighted everyday. I guess the truth really does set you free!

Remember: I don’t drive. My stubbornness and vanity are not worth someone’s life. I just needed to feel like a ‘big girl’.

After that I went and made a physical therapy appointment. I need to bring this shoulder back to health. Right now it is cramping my style worse than the eyes. The eyes don’t hurt! The shoulder does. I thought I was being good, but it still aches. Try trying to be active but not using one arm. Grrrrrrrrrr……

After kayaking on Sunday (yes, I know I have a bum shoulder. It reminds me hourly), I went to the phone store and got a new cell phone. Two and a half hours later and I was out of there. In that time I had to go potty at least once. If the process went on for another half an hour I was going to ask them to order take out!

Anyway, the point is this: phone store people are very helpful. They will spend the time with you. I still have a lot of stuff to do on the phone but Ron, the phone store guy, gave me his number and he promised to walk me through it all. As soon as I figure out some of what the hey I am doing on this phone, I want to load the augmented reality app and see how it works as a magnifier.

If your phone is slightly older, like mine was, it might behoove you to invest in a new one. On the new one, Ron turned the magnification up all the way. If I do the three taps thing after that, letters can be ¾ of an inch high. The easier to see, my dears.

Three taps thing? Yep. It is possible on Android phones to tap the screen three times in quick succession and everything magnifies. Three times again and it goes back down. No one may have showed you that little trick. The younger generation believe tech knowledge is innate, not learned. They think we should know.

And now news some of you can actually use, they are finding more evidence that we may be better off doing genetic testing before we start drug therapy. PubMed recently ran an article citing research that the risk allele of the Y402H polymorphism in the CFH gene is related to less favorable outcomes when using bevacizumab (Avastin) or ranibizumab (Lucentis). (Quiz: What does -zumab as a suffix tell us? Answer: humanized antibody. I learned something!) The ‘in English’ version of that is this: if you have a certain variation on the complement factor H gene, your response to those drugs will be less than you expected when it comes to wet AMD control. If you are not getting desired outcomes with either bevacizumab or ranibizumab, you might suggest your doctor try another drug instead. It appears that, in some cases, if one of those drugs doesn’t work well, the other one won’t work well either.

Well, I guess I should stop prattling here. Need to get ready to go again. Type at you later!

written July 12th, 2017

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Eyes Open, Mouth Closed

TGIF! In real time, welcome to the weekend!

In the interest of fair and unbiased reporting, I am once again writing about wet AMD…..well, actually I am writing about intravitreal injections, a topic many more of us are going to be interested in very soon. Although there seem to be PLENTY of you wet folks getting the shots already. Did you know intravitreal injections are the most commonly performed medical procedure in the US? According to a 2015 Review of Ophthalmology article, Updated Guidelines for Intravitreal Injections, the numbers are twice what they are for cataract surgery. That makes sense considering people only ever have two cataract operations as opposed to perhaps 24 or more injections in a year alone. No matter the logic behind the numbers, though, that is still a lot of trips to the doctor.

Anyway, when shots first started in 2004, there was a ‘best practices’ paper written. That paper was revisited in 2014.

One thing I noticed? You chatty people should stop trying to engage the doctors and nurses in conversation! That was suggested back in 2004 and has been supported in more recent literature.

Why, you may ask. Do you remember when your parents told you not to bite (or get bit!) because the human mouth is filthy? They were right. Mouths are ridiculously germy.

Healio reported a strict ‘no talk’ policy during injections causes substantial difference. Chatty doctors had seven cases of infection due to oral pathogens. Doctors who did not talk had two. Granted, these numbers were over a total of over 47,000 injections, but do you want to be the one with a raging eye infection? (That answer should be ‘no’.)

And if you asked to have a companion for ‘moral support’ and got told no? Infection was probably the reason. Doctors can control whether they speak or not, but they have no control over people you bring with you. They are not being cruel. Leave the motor mouth in the car.

Other things in the best practices paper were equally common sense. Use adequate antibiotics and anesthesia. Monitor intraocular pressure. Wash your hands! The whole idea is to reduce discomfort and reduce infection, not necessarily in that order.

Pretty much, the lesson is: avoid infection. Make sure you have a nice, clean face and hands when you get there. Understand why you cannot have people with you. Be quiet and allow the medical staff to be silent as well. Although the paper said masks and sterile drapes are optional, if you want them, you have the right to request them.

Once again, the goal is to keep you comfortable and – more importantly! – keep you from having eye infections. Stay healthy! In the end, the responsibility is on you. Speak up about concerns. If they won’t cooperate, look for other resources. Continue reading “Eyes Open, Mouth Closed”

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A Stuffed Black Dog

I am practicing my DBT skills on myself today. Today was the day I was supposed to get a new pool liner. Supposed to being the operative words.

I have spent several years trying to extend the life of the old liner with gorilla tape! That one was always a bit of a debacle. I picked an installer at random – and did not find out he had been driven out of business three times before that until I was having problems. (Note to self: research tradesmen!) When hurricane Ivan came along and pushed up the bottom of my pool, I was not able to get a lick of help from that guy. My pool bottom had lumps with wrinkles radiating in all directions. I was dreaming about GIANT spiders living in the pool!?

But that is not why I am practicing my DBT. Today was supposed to be sunny and 80 °F. It is 56 and raining. My pool is drained and there will be no new liner for a week. Frustrated, but it is what it is. No controlling the weather.

Also, why ruin right now thinking about the swamp smells that might (face it, probably will) be coming off the pool until we get the new liner in? My fussing won’t make it smell like roses!

One of our readers/member of our Facebook group recently sent some comments about her first injection for wet AMD. When I read what she had written, I realized in some ways she had practiced DBT! Other ways she needed a little reminder to do so.

The reminder first: the days before her first injection our reader spent a lot of time worrying and fussing. After she had her shot she was sort of upset with herself because it had not been as bad as she had envisioned. She had wasted a lot of time being in a tizzy about it all!

Yep. My pool may not stink as much as I believe it will. The only way to find out is wait and see…and don’t waste time and energy worrying about it.

Reality dictated our reader had to have her shot. Otherwise there would be bigger problems. Reality says I am going to have a swamp in my backyard. No avoiding it. Might as well accept it will happen.

Both our reader and I know what caused our respective messes. She has ‘bad’ genes and my pool guy got a bum weather report. But even knowing what happened, the causes are not under our control. No sense fussing or saying it should not be happening. Better to practice ACCEPTS and get through it. [Lin/Linda: Click here for one of Sue’s pages on ACCEPTS.]

And you know what I loved? Our reader practiced a self-soothing skill through touch! She took a stuffed animal (a stuffed black dog) with her to help her through.

Another DBT skill she used (whether she knew it or not!) was effectiveness. That stuffed animal may not have been a ‘proper’ thing for a grown woman to have, but who cares? It did its job and helped our reader through. Remember effectiveness is all about doing what the situation calls for even if custom (or snobbery!) says it should not be done that way. [Lin/Linda: Click here for one of Sue’s pages on effectiveness.]

So, thanks to our reader for letting me use her comments in a teachable moment. As for me, no sense sitting around waiting for the pool to stink. I am off to Walmart. Continue reading “A Stuffed Black Dog”

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Hindsight is 20/20

Good evening! How are you all?

Lin has noticed I seem to have written soooo many pages they are overwhelming and confusing some people. She feels this is particularly true for some of the newbies who probably feel like they have walked in on the (boring and confusing) middle of a movie. [Lin/Linda: to be clear, those are Sue’s words! ::grin::]

Understood. Some of you are back in the shock and doom phrase and I am talking about getting newspapers on your phones and other trivial matters. Who wants to hear about that sort of thing while your world is unraveling?

In the interest of pointing you towards something that might actually be helpful, Lin is republishing some earlier pages for your attention and discussion. And I – always helpful – am going to add to the confusion by writing another page!?

This page will have a catchy title thanks to Lin, but right now I am going to call it “What I know now that I wish I had known a year and a half ago”.

First, you are not going everything black and dark blind.

It is not good but neither is it quite that bad. You are losing central vision. Things will not be good for anywhere from about 15 to 60 degrees of arc. Since normal visual fields are 170 or so degrees of arc, you have the potential to lose about a third of your vision. Not anything to cheer about but better than 100%.

You may not be doomed to progress to end stage AMD.

About 15% of patients become ‘wet’. About 15% progress to geographic atrophy. That means you – starting out with drusen and a diagnosis of early AMD – have a 85% chance of dodging the proverbial bullet for end stage AMD. You may very well not get as bad as I am and a year and a half after my second eye went to hell, I am still functional. [Lin/Linda: a person can have both wet AMD and geographic atrophy in the same eye.  I don’t what that does to the %, if anything.]

You did not cause this.

Yes, AMD is caused but it was not caused by anything you did or did not do. The causes are in your genes. This is a heritable disease. There are dozens if not hundreds of genes that are being investigated to try to figure out how AMD is created. It appears AMD may just be the result of a genetic ‘perfect storm’ and there is no one to blame.

There may come a time you are seeing things.

I saw some odd stuff when my brain was working overtime to assign meaning to the faulty images my eyes were sending it. You are not psychotic (I hope you are not psychotic). This is Charles Bonnet Syndrome. When your brain gives up trying to assign meaning to false signals you will stop seeing weird ‘stuff’. In the meantime, enjoy the fantasy.

Point number last: There is an amazing amount of hope for treatment and eventually a cure for AMD.

Research is going on everyday. New discoveries are announced with regularity. The medical community is hot on the trail of something that will arrest the progression and may even reverse this disease. All we have to do is hold on.

OK. Those were my biggie when I first lost my second eye. What are you worried about? Please share and we can discuss it. Continue reading “Hindsight is 20/20”

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Always Learning More and More

Moving right along with the article I am reading (in Webvision’s Age-Related Macular Degeneration), I am finding a lot of new vocabulary and abbreviations. Have you heard of PEDs, for example? PEDs are not nylon footies. They are pigment epithelial detachments. They happen when a bunch of drusen join forces and push up the RPE layer of your eye. Since the RPEs are under the retina and need to be in contact with Bruch’s membrane in order to take care of the photoreceptors, having them jacked up is not a good thing.

There is more and more information suggesting Bruch’s membrane is not totally blameless in this whole debacle. I am not going to pretend to understand it but there is evidence structural and biochemical differences in Bruch’s membrane occur in those with AMD but not in people who do not have the disorder. It may not be all the fault of the RPEs.

Recently I have been seeing the terms classic, predominantly classic and occult to describe different forms of wet AMD. They are mentioned in the article I am reading but not well defined.

According to the American Macular Degeneration Foundation the terms classic, predominantly classic and occult describe the choroidal neovascularization (read “formation of new blood vessels in an inner layer of your eyeball”) that happens in wet AMD. Classic choroidal neovasculazation is characterized by well-defined boundaries. Average visual acuity is between 20/ 250 and 20/400.

Occult CNV sounds like it should be scary but it is actually the more benign. Occult lesions are not as well-defined as classic ones. They tend to leak less and average visual acuity is between 20/80 and 20/200. If given a choice, I would take this one!

Predominantly classic is, as it sounds, a mixed type. The other designation for this type is minimal classic.

According to Joachim Wachtin in Classical Choroid Neovascularization CNVs can also be classified by where they can be found in relation to the fovea. Some of them are directly under the fovea and are called subfoveal. Those that are extremely close to the fovea are called juxtafoveal and the ones that are farther away are called extrafoveal.

Like I said, lots of new vocabulary coming our way! But I do believe that, when in a strange land, you should always learn a few basic phrases. These are some basic phrases in the land of wet AMD.

My article takes a serious detour into science babble and I truly don’t understand much. Glaze over time! That means I am going to stop sharing info from it.

Hope these scraps of information fit into your ‘puzzle’ somehow. One of these days we will have gathered enough pieces of knowledge to actually figure out what the picture is!

In the meantime, keep on learning. In the famous words of Schoolhouse Rock, “….because knowledge is power!” Gather knowledge. Be powerful. Continue reading “Always Learning More and More”

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Always Learning More

Hey, there! I think I have found a good article on macular degeneration, our favorite but somewhat distasteful topic. The article is in Webvision and is entitled Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Another catchy title. The main author is Hageman.

Did you know the name up until around 1990 was ‘senile macular degeneration’? Makes it sound like our eyes have lost some of their mental faculties. Glad that was changed!

Also discovered the fovea is the center of the macula. It contains the highest concentration of cone photoreceptors and is the only region of the retina that can attain 20/20 vision.

I think when my optometrist said I had such an abrupt vision loss because the deterioration had reached the center of my macula she was talking about the loss of my fovea. That means 20/20 vision is no longer possible for me. Even if I use prisms or eventually get that eye max mono thingee, things will not be ‘perfect’. [Lin/Linda: she means the EyeMax Mono lens implant.]

This article says macular vision is 10% of vision! Estimates of degrees of arc of potential loss seem to be getting better, but don’t get too excited. Remember we are talking my interpretation of things I read. It is guess-work. I know nothing.

Although I used to think hard drusen sound more ominous than soft ones, it is actually the other way around. Hard drusen are smaller and soft ones are larger. If they are looking in your eyes and mention soft drusen, you have more of a problem than if they see hard drusen.

I thought that all dry AMD would progress to GA (geographic atrophy) if the person lived that long. This article says only 10 to 15% of dry AMD patients progress rapidly enough to ‘achieve’ GA. Interesting.

That means my visual state is something many of you will not have to experience. That is a good thing! And FYI? I am functional so you can remain functional as well.

For you ‘wet’ folks, the article once again cautions you to stay on top of things and get your shots. Left to its own devices wet AMD progresses to a cicatrical stage. Cicatrix is a fancy word related to scars and scarring. Disciform scars occur when fibrous tissues develop in Bruch’s membrane between the RPEs and the retina. Scarring is, needless to say, not good and can result in severe vision loss. Bottom line for this paragraph is: do not allow bleeds to happen to you!

Closing in on my 500 words and I still have pages to read in this article. I think I will close this page, read some more and start another.

And FYI, I emailed by doctor. And – while he also believes the increased density/opacity of my blind spot is related to expected disease progression – I am going in for a vision screen in two days. Perceivable changes in your vision? I expect you to call, too. Check it out.

written April 25th, 2017

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