Nee­dles in the eyes are not so bad

The Invercargill Eye - - WHAT’S ON - JOANNA GRIF­FITHS

Hav­ing some­one stick a nee­dle in his eye is no big thing for Dip­ton man Mike Smith.

The 75-year-old was di­ag­nosed with mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion in his right eye about five years ago.

Smith will share his ex­pe­ri­ences at a free com­mu­nity sem­i­nar on mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion at the Kelvin Ho­tel at 10am on Satur­day.

His mes­sage was sim­ple, ‘‘Don’t leave treat­ment too late.’’

Too many peo­ple de­layed get­ting treat­ment be­cause they were scared of it, he said.

Mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion was a fairly com­mon eye con­di­tion, he said. It is when the mac­ula, the tis­sue at the back of the eye, strug­gled to process light be­cause of a build up of drusen, fatty pro­teins, or blood ves­sels. It of­ten ap­peared as a small dis­tor­tion in the dis­tance in the be­gin­ning.

Smith first re­alised he had a prob­lem when look­ing at straight lines.

‘‘Tele­graph poles and win­dow frames, they were never straight.’’

It was not like a black spot in his eye, it was like liv­ing in an op­ti­cal il­lu­sion, he said.

‘‘When driv­ing I could see ev­ery­thing but if I looked out across the road there was al­ways a kink in the dis­tance.’’

Like many peo­ple, he sim­ply tol­er­ated the kink in his vi­sion, he said. ‘‘I just got pro­gres­sively worse.’’

In the end a trip to the doc­tor was in­evitable, he said.

The doc­tor handed him a piece of pa­per with a grid drawn on it.

As Smith looked at the pa­per, the lines curved and they knew he had mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion.

An op­ti­mist, he never once thought his eye­sight was in dan­ger. In­stead of get­ting upset about it, he sim­ply asked what could be done.

As part of his treat­ment, Smith needed an in­jec­tion in his right eye once ev­ery six weeks un­til the con­di­tion sta­bilised.

At first, like most other peo­ple, he was not thrilled with the idea of some­one stick­ing a nee­dle into his eye, he said.

‘‘Peo­ple think the treat­ment is go­ing to be aw­ful but it’s not.’’

De­spite the eye hav­ing to be open dur­ing the pro­ce­dure, you couldn’t see or feel any­thing, he said. ‘‘It just feels like some­one is pressing on your lids.’’

Af­ter the treat­ment, it just felt like a stick had been flicked into his eye for about three hours be­fore feel­ing nor­mal again. ‘‘It re­ally isn’t as scary as it sounds.’’

When peo­ple de­layed treat­ments, they risked per­ma­nently dam­ag­ing their sight, he said. ‘‘Hav­ing a nee­dle in your eye is not plea­sur­able but it’s bet­ter than per­ma­nent dam­age to the eye.’’

JOANNA GRIF­FITHS

Mike Smith will talk about what it is like to live with mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion at a sem­i­nar on Satur­day.

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