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Lois Rodman: Macular Degeneration

Lois Rodman, 66, was helping her granddaughter, Lily, with her math homework when suddenly she couldn’t make out what was written in the textbook. She looked at Lily and realized she wasn’t able to see the details of her face.

“My eyesight had been deteriorating since I was 43 years old,” remembered Lois. “My father had macular degeneration so there was a chance I’d develop it as well. When I could no longer see my granddaughter’s face, that was it. I knew I had to do something before I went blind.”

Lois’ daughter did some research and learned that her mother’s eyesight could be improved by having an intraocular microscopic telescope (IMT) implanted in the eye. This device improves vision in people with atrophic or “dry,” age-related macular degeneration.

Lois had the IMT implanted in her right eye at the UPMC Vision Institute in Oakland and began occupational therapy at the UPMC Low Vision Clinic the next day.

“After the procedure, it’s hard to train your brain to relearn how to make your eye work,” said Lois. “My therapist, Holly, explained each exercise in detail and told me why I had to do it, which made it easier for me to understand the process and accept it. When I became really frustrated, she talked me through some really tough times.”

Since Lois was having difficulty reading from a distance, Holly helped her adapt by creating various colored dots to put on every other number on Lois’ microwave. She also had Lois trace circles on paper and say what colors and letters she saw when she painted. Holly provided her with the tools she needed in order to learn how to see with the IMT.

“If you ever think therapy is one of those things you can just blow off, you’re wrong,” said Lois. “Therapy is a vital part of your recovery and Holly made the journey more fun. UPMC Rehabilitation Institute provided great therapy to help me train my brain so I could see through the new eye,” said Lois.

“The other day Lily asked me, ‘Bubby, can you see me now?’” recalled Lois. “I gave her a big hug and told her, ‘Yes, honey, I’m so happy that I can see your face again.’ That made all those weeks of therapy worthwhile.”

Read more stories from the Occupational Therapy Program patients.

Learn more about the Occupational Therapy Program.