Barbara Kellermueller doesn’t let wet AMD get in the way of her active lifestyle, which includes being the designated driver for her friends. She shares how she stays independent with the condition.

Wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an advanced form of the eye condition AMD. With wet AMD, new blood vessels grow under the retina. These blood vessels may leak blood or other fluids that cause scar tissue to form on the macula.

Wet AMD can impair your central vision. It’s associated with more severe symptoms and may cause faster vision loss than dry AMD. Often, a person will not know they have wet AMD until their vision is blurry.

Getting diagnosed with wet AMD can feel devastating, but it doesn’t have to be.

Meet Barbara Kellermueller from West Palm Beach, Florida. She didn’t let wet AMD slow down her active lifestyle.

Barbara wasted no time in getting diagnosed. When she started to notice the TV looking funny, she contacted a doctor and got examined right away.

Early, regular eye exams from your eye care professional can help diagnose wet AMD earlier. Early treatment can help improve treatment outcomes and help prevent loss of independence.

Barbara spoke with Healthline about her experience with wet AMD. Here’s what she had to say.

This interview has been edited for brevity, length, and clarity.

“I was sitting in the living room watching television and noticed the screen was slanted and a little distorted,” said Barbara. “I immediately called my doctor and made an appointment.

“When I saw the doctor, he gave me tests, and right then and there, I was diagnosed.”

The rapid diagnosis allowed Barbara to start treatment very quickly and helped her regain and maintain her eyesight.

“I was very concerned, but the doctor put me at ease. He told me the prognosis. I started my [injections] and noticed an immediate improvement in my left eye.”

There are a number of treatments doctors can prescribe to help slow the progression of wet AMD. Medications that target proteins that cause the growth of blood vessels in the back of your eye are a common treatment option. These are typically given as injections directly into the eye.

“It’s in my left eye, but my right eye is starting,” said Barbara. “I went every 4 to 6 weeks at first, but now I am able to go every 4 months.

“It was surprising to me to go that long — in a very good way. The shots have helped me a great deal.”

“I was still able to do everything,” Barbara said about staying active with wet AMD.

“I could still drive. I drive my friends to bingo and the casino, and I keep busy in the community. Not one day do I spend indoors.”

Barbara stated that her key to independence is simple: “As long as you keep up the shots and do what you’re supposed to do, you’ll be fine. They have helped me a great deal.”

In addition to treatment, Barbara also credits a lot of her success to her “active lifestyle and wonderful group of friends who have helped with everything.”

“I’m really blessed, I am,” she said.

“We live in a beautiful world,” said Barbara. “There’s so much to see.”

For Barbara, treatment helped her stay active and allowed her to continue doing everything she had been doing prior to diagnosis.

“Don’t ignore your symptoms, and don’t be afraid,” she noted. “It’s frightening to find out there’s something wrong with your eyes and find out your vision is gone, but it doesn’t have to be if you do what you’re supposed to.”

“Your eyesight is your most precious commodity and the gateway to the world we live in,” Barbara explained. “Don’t ignore your eyesight.”

Barbara notes that wet AMD symptoms won’t go away on their own, but treatment can help. “Immediately see your doctor and follow through with [their] advice,” she said.

Experts recommend getting regular eye screenings, staying active, eating a healthy diet, and taking certain vitamins to help reduce your risk of AMD progressing to more advanced forms, like wet AMD.

Barbara also stresses the importance of finding support. “There are support groups where you can talk about [wet AMD],” she said.

If you’d like to join a support group, you can ask your doctor for a recommendation or use the Macular Society’s search tool to find support groups local to your area.

Barbara Kellermueller, 82, lives in West Palm Beach, Florida. In 2021, Barbara noticed that her television screen looked distorted, so she called her doctor. She was diagnosed with wet AMD and began treatment, which included injections in both of her eyes every few months. She admitted it sounded scary at first, but she wasn’t willing to sacrifice her vision. Barbara lives by herself in a retirement community and is the designated driver among her friends.