AMDBlog.org recently caught up with Judi Delgado, the director of AMD.org; a nonprofit program of the Discovery Eye Foundation. Mrs. Delgado has been with the foundation since 1998 and calls working with seniors and their families an inspiration.
For more on the foundation’s overall goals and how Judi strives to personally help AMD patients in their journeys, continue reading for our feature interview with her.
First off, could you tell us a little bit about AMD.org’s mission?
The Macular Degeneration Partnership is a patient education and outreach program of the nonprofit Discovery Eye Foundation. Our mission is to provide information, support and resources to those with AMD and to their families and caregivers.
We do this through our website, AMD.org; monthly free email newsletter, AMD Update; a toll-free “warm line”; seminars; support groups and community health events.
How did you first become involved with the foundation?
I’ve been involved with Discovery Eye Foundation since 1998. I had previously worked for our Medical Director, Dr. Anthony B. Nesburn. He contacted me about starting a patient support program for those with macular degeneration.
This was a project that touched him personally. Dr. Nesburn’s family history is strong for AMD. His father lost his sight to the disease and several family members are diagnosed with it. Having seen the impact of vision loss, his mother, Lilian, provided the initial funding for the Macular Degeneration Partnership.
How have you been personally affected by the disease?
I am fortunate to have good vision and none of my relatives has macular degeneration. I’ve worked in ophthalmology since 1968 and have seen a lot of changes. In my work with seniors and their families, I am touched by their strength and determination. It is an inspiration and a privilege to help them learn coping skills and to deal with the emotional impact of vision loss.
How do you strive to help individuals struggling with low vision?
The diagnosis of macular degeneration usually comes as a shock. Many people are afraid that they will go blind. The first and most important message is that AMD does not cause blindness. People are reassured when they find out they will always have peripheral vision.
The second message is that there is help and hope. Low vision rehabilitation, assistive devices and daily living skills can help them maintain independence and recover the enjoyment of their favorite activities. We bring experts to them and hands on demonstrations so they can find what works for them. We also bring to our meetings and presentations updates on the wide variety of research underway for AMD. The future looks very hopeful!
What advice would you give someone who was recently diagnosed with AMD?
Learn everything you can and don’t isolate yourself. Become educated and join a support group. Look at the lifestyle factors that contribute to macular degeneration and see what you can change. Stop smoking. Eat lots of vegetables, fruit and fish. Get some exercise and control your cholesterol and blood pressure. Wear sunglasses. Even if you have dry AMD and the doctor can’t help you, you can help yourself to slow the progression.
Help us support the Foundation Fighting Blindness during Macular Degeneration Awareness Month by Liking us on Facebook. We’re donating $1.00 to the Foundation Fighting Blindness for each and every like MacuHealth receives this month!