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Macular Degeneration: Newly Diagnosed

If you or someone in your family has been diagnosed with macular degeneration, you’ll have a lot of questions. A wide network of social services is available to help you and your family with financial, physical, and emotional resources.

First, you must have an excellent support team who can help you cope with your vision loss. This team should include you, your primary eye care professional, and an optometrist or ophthalmologist specializing in low vision. Your eye care specialist can help you understand:

  • What your diagnosis is
  • What it means
  • How to treat the condition and symptoms right now
  • How to monitor your vision and eye health going forward

Consider working with other health care professionals who specialize in low-vision care, including:

  • Certified low-vision therapists
  • Counselors and social workers
  • Occupational therapists
  • Orientation and mobility specialists

A low-vision therapist is a vision rehabilitation professional who trains people with low vision to use optical and nonoptical devices and adaptive techniques to make the most of their remaining vision.

Your eye care team can help you make the most of your remaining vision and maintain your independence.

Second, ask your eye care team for help with your vision problems. Find out more about support services and adaptive devices that can help you with daily activities like reading, sewing, cooking, or fixing things around the house.

Third, ask about vision rehabilitation to help restore your functional abilities and improve your quality of life. Vision rehabilitation programs offer a wide range of services, including:

  • Guidance on modifying your home
  • Resources and support to help you cope with your vision loss
  • Training for magnifying and adaptive devices
  • Ways to carry out daily living tasks safely and independently

Medicare may cover part or all of a patient’s occupational therapy, but the therapy must be ordered by a physician and provided by a Medicare-approved health care provider. To find out if you are eligible for Medicare-funded occupational therapy, call 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227).

Finally, be persistent and stay positive. You can be your own best health care advocate by continuing to ask questions so you can learn as much as you can.

  • Write down questions to ask your doctor before your exam.
  • Bring a notepad and pen or pencil to jot down answers, or bring a friend to do that for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.
  • Be clear about your wants and needs.
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