Eyes wide open to sight-saving treatment

Imagine being told that you are losing your sight, and the only way to save it is by having regular injections in the eye.

Joan Perry, 89, will receive a revolutionary sight saving treatment. Photo: Supplied

Joan Perry, 89, will receive a revolutionary sight saving treatment. Photo: Supplied

That’s exactly what happened to 89-year-old Melbourne woman Joan Perry who was recently diagnosed with macular degeneration.

Joan Perry. Photo Supplied

She was referred to retinal specialist Dr Devinder Chauhan of Vision Eye Institute Melbourne.

Joan said: “When I was told there was a treatment that could help slow the progression of the disease, I was relieved – until he explained that it involved regular injections into the eye! I thought, oh my, I’m not sure I can go through with it!”

A revolutionary treatment

Intravitreal injections are a relatively new treatment. “Until nine years ago, a diagnosis of wet macular degeneration meant an almost inevitable decline in vision that eventually resulted in legal blindness.” Says Dr Chauhan. “But then anti-VEGF drugs came on the market.”

“For the first time we could slow, stop or even reverse progression of the disease for a long period of time.”

Painless, surprisingly stress-free treatment

Immediately after having her first injection, Joan was pleasantly surprised. “There’s a little pressure on the eye but they gave me numbing drops beforehand so there was absolutely no pain whatsoever.”

“Now I’ve had over 100 injections – I don’t really think about it anymore.”

Although her vision isn’t perfect, she is fortunate to have a good support network, includes her local church and Vision Australia.

Eat your greens

Joan also wants everyone to understand the importance of diet. “Dr Chauhan uses the saying ‘Fish, green and gold’ to make it easy to remember.”

‘Fish, green and gold’ refers to oily fish such as salmon or mackerel, leafy greens such as spinach and kale and gold vegetables such as yellow capsicum and pumpkin. Nuts and brightly coloured berries such as blueberries are also important to eye health.

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