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While everyone experiences a diagnosis of wet macular degeneration differently, there are some best practices that can help you adjust to life with the chronic condition. Here are some healthy personal coping strategies for managing its impact on your daily life.

Establish a trusting relationship with your care team

Building and maintaining a relationship of trust with your healthcare providers can help you feel safe while attending appointments, receiving treatment and following through on post-treatment guidance1.Trust is essential for developing an open channel of communication with your eye care team, which is an important part of ensuring you’re comfortable sharing changes in your vision, asking questions about your treatment and taking action to properly manage the disease.  

Identifying and connecting with the right doctor is the first step in ensuring you’re comfortable with your eye care team. This may involve speaking to more than one eye care doctor in order to find a doctor that you feel safe with.

Approach wet macular degeneration with positivity, but acknowledge your range of emotions

Keeping a positive outlook, and remembering that there are people and resources available to support you, will help you immensely along the way.

Emotional reactions, such as sadness, crying, rage or anger, embarrassment and fear for the future, are a normal part of adjusting to your wet macular degeneration diagnosis2.It is important to keep in mind that your feelings are valid. However, there are healthy ways of dealing with them and avoiding stress. Dwelling on what you miss from the past or fearing the future will keep you from living life to the fullest in the present.

Even though it is hard, accepting your wet macular degeneration diagnosis and the way you may need to adapt your day-to-day activities can help you to release negative thoughts and emotions3. Rather than avoiding the activities that you used to do, look for alternatives that allow you to continue exploring your interests in order to prevent inactivity and isolation.

Remember that this diagnosis does not mean that you have to stop doing the things you love – you may just have to start doing them differently4.

Find practical solutions

Focus on finding solutions for new challenges rather than abandoning activities that are important to you. You can find different ways of doing daily tasks or adapt certain habits to your new situation and something that may feel challenging initially, could become easier in the future with these adaptations2.

For example, you may initially think, “I won't be able to read anymore,” but after using a tablet with accessibility capabilities, you may say, “With a tablet, I can increase the font size and create contrast to read easily.”2 Or you may find that for reading longer books, audio books are a great solution.

Try to think about how you can do these activities, not why you think you can’t do them.

Connect with your support network

Expressing and sharing your successes and struggles with family and friends will help you feel better. Ask for help when you need it and share your feelings, even if you may feel embarrassed or worry they won’t understand at first4.

Building a support system of family and friends can help you with daily tasks and motivation. There are also resources available in your community – from patient associations to technical resources – that can help you manage living with wet macular degeneration5.

 

 

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References

  1. Kandula S, et al. Patients’ knowledge and perspectives on wet age-related macular degeneration and its treatment. Clinical Ophthalmology 2010:4 375–381.
  2. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Vision Rehabilitation Preferred Practice Pattern. 2017.
  3. Varano, Monica et al. The emotional and physical impact of wet age-related macular degeneration: findings from the wAMD Patient and Caregiver Survey. Clinical Ophthalmology (Auckland, N.Z.) vol. 10 257-67. 3 Feb. 2016, doi:10.2147/OPTH.S92616
  4. Prevention of Blindness and Visual Impairment. WHO website. Available at: http://www.who.int/blindness/causes/priority/en/index7.html. Accessed July 2019.
  5. Wyse A. Depression in age-related macular degeneration. American Macular Degeneration Foundation.
  6. Patient-Centered Outcomes in Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration. The Angiogenesis Foundation. 2018. Available at: https://angio.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Patient-Centered-Outcomes-in-Wet-Age_30th_May.pdf.
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