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    Mel Byrnes: Early action saved his sight

    Real life stories from the macular disease community.

    Mel Byrnes

    Recognising the symptoms of AMD

    Mel Byrnes was diagnosed with wet age-related macular degeneration in 2007 but considers himself fortunate. A retired pharmacist, he’s acutely aware that if he hadn’t acted quickly upon recognising the symptoms of AMD, he’d be telling a different story.

    “I first noticed something was wrong with my vision when I woke one morning. There was a black spot on the ceiling. I tested my vision with my Amsler grid. I noticed the lines, once straight, were wavy and blurry. The next day I saw a retina specialist who gave me an injection in the right eye. I’ve been having regular injections ever since,” said Mel.

    Those injections have saved Mel’s sight.

    His right eye hasn’t deteriorated further. And because wet AMD was picked up in his left eye almost before he had any symptoms, and he started treatment immediately, he has retained his sight in that eye too.

    “I am now having injections in both eyes.

    “I count myself fortunate as I can still drive, I can still read, and I can look after my wife Robin who, unfortunately, has frontal temporal dementia.  I’d have been a different person now if these injections weren’t available.”

    Genetic link to AMD

    The strong genetic link associated with age-related macular degeneration means there is a 50 per cent chance of developing the disease if a direct family member has the disease.

    Looking back Mel realises his father most likely had AMD.

    “My father was a soldier. When he came back from the war his eyesight had deteriorated. It was all put down to something that happened in the war. But looking back, I’m sure he must have had macular degeneration.”

    “My two brothers have also been diagnosed with the same problem, so there is definitely a family correlation,” he said.

    “I can only stress the importance of making sure that if you have age-related macular degeneration, your immediate family is made aware of the need to have their macula checked regularly,” said Mel.

    Posted: 20 May 2017

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