Needles in the eyes are not so bad
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.’’
Mike Smith will talk about what it is like to live with macular degeneration at a seminar on Saturday.