I formed The American Macular Degeneration Foundation to educate the public about macular degeneration and to support scientific research for its prevention, treatment, and cure. Along the way, AMDF has become so much more as our stories have been shared and we have helped each other after the diagnosis is received and the search for answers begins.
In 1993, soon after my 39th birthday, I was diagnosed with macular degeneration. I know the shock of being told that I might go blind from a disease I’d never heard of. I know the dismay of being told there is little, if anything, that can be done.
I understand the fear of being told that laser surgery (the most common surgical procedure available to treat “wet” macular degeneration in past years) might also cause blind spots.These were the things said to me. As you can imagine, I was worried. And, increasingly, as I sought information and answers, I found myself frustrated.
Why was it, I wondered, that I’d learned about glaucoma and cataracts in school and from the media, but even with a three-year post-graduate degree, I had never heard of macular degeneration?
I now know — more than 20 years later, and with my vision thankfully still functional overall — that macular degeneration remains something of a mystery. It affects central vision, and macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people older than 55 in the western world; in the U.S. alone it affects 10 million people, and we all know what the wave of “Baby Boomers” can add to that number in coming years. Yet, hardly anyone knows about macular degeneration. Oddly, it can also show up in people like me at age 39, and then lie dormant for decades. And researchers are looking at the genetics and the effects of overexposure to screens and sun glare, so increasing numbers of future generations could be impacted as well.
Because we are so numerous, a small contribution from each of us will make a real difference. With your help, AMDF can continue to report the latest news about methods of prevention and treatments, and provide helpful healthcare and life management techniques until a cure is found. Joining AMDF also will enable funding that very research.
AMDF can provide family physicians with the information needed to help their patients understand their disease, protect themselves, get treatment, and seek other forms of skilled help. Specialists can be given the tools to communicate plainly with frightened patients about the nature of their problem, what they can reasonably expect for treatments, and what promising research there is.
A modest contribution, even $25.00 ($40.00 Foreign) enables the American Macular Degeneration Foundation to achieve its education and research goals — and entitles the giver to receive four issues of the AMDF newsletter plus the AMDF video Hope & Cope: Living with Macular Degeneration.
Our work has begun and we welcome you to join AMDF. Our united efforts will help alleviate fear and frustration. It is our fervent hope to conquer this disease in the coming years, for the sake of ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. With your support, AMDF can ensure this vision of a brighter tomorrow.
Chip Goehring, President
Board of Trustees, American Macular Degeneration Foundation