Family History of AMD Spurs Early Diagnosis for Retired Teacher
Liz Rundzieher remembers her aunt arranging the furniture in her home so she could navigate through each room by counting steps and feeling for furniture and doorways. Her aunt had lost her central vision due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and was saddened when she couldn’t recognize the faces of her loved ones due to her vision loss.
Coming from a family with a history of AMD, Liz knew she would need to be on the lookout for the condition that had caused impaired vision in her mother and several of her aunts and uncles.
“AMD runs in my family and affected many of my relatives before good treatments really existed,” Liz said. “I saw my loved ones lose some of their independence, and I worried about losing my ability to manage my household, read books and see my granddaughters grow up.”
For years, Liz stopped at her refrigerator every few days and looked closely at a black and white grid (known as an Amsler grid) to confirm that the vertical and horizontal lines still appeared straight and that there were no blurry areas or dark spots.
Then one day, the straight lines appeared wavy, just as she feared they eventually would.
Liz had already been diagnosed with the dry form of AMD, which doesn’t typically cause symptoms. In some patients dry AMD can progress to wet AMD, with symptoms including straight lines looking wavy or slanted, a decrease in the brightness or intensity of colors, blurring of the central vision or a gradual or sudden loss of central vision.
She immediately made an appointment with ASRS member Dr. Christina Weng after noticing this telltale symptom. During their first visit, Dr. Weng diagnosed Liz with wet AMD in her right eye and reassured her that with intravitreal injections, or eye injections, there was a very good chance of preserving her vision.
“Hearing that you’re going to get an eye injection can be really scary, but I felt such confidence in Dr. Weng,” Liz said. “She shared her own personal story of family members’ vision loss and assured me that because we caught my wet AMD early there was a lot to be hopeful about.”
Now Liz has eye injections every ten weeks and credits them with helping preserve her vision. That means she’s still able to pay the bills and manage the household she shares with her husband, see her loved one’s faces and use her skills as a retired teacher to help one of her granddaughters with virtual school each day.
“I have always been frightened at the prospect of losing my vision, and will always remember how emotional it was for me when Dr. Weng diagnosed me with wet AMD,” Liz said. “But she is such a calm and reassuring individual. Anyone who is facing this diagnosis and eye injections for treatment would be blessed to be cared for by such a wonderful retina specialist.”