“They Call Me Mellow Yellow”

I’m just wild about saffron….they call me Mellow Yellow….remember that one?

Learning something new every day, I just looked up saffron. Did you know that saffron threads are the stamens (read ‘boy parts’) of the crocus? There is an average of three threads per flower according to seriouseats.com 150 flowers are needed to make one gram of saffron.

Saffron is already outrageously expensive at $2,000 to $10,000 per pound. However, it would be much more expensive if it were being harvested by people earning a decent wage.

So, if you are not hung up on the human rights issue, or the act of emasculating flowers AND if you have the money, saffron may be an AMD ‘treatment’/ supplement for you. There was a 2010 study suggesting daily, 20 mg doses of saffron may serve as protection against progression of AMD in early stage patients.

It seems that other than taste, saffron does have a few things to help justify that crazy price. Saffron includes antioxidants such as carotene, crocin and crocetin. (Wasn’t it nice of them to credit the plants these things were originally found in? Better than ‘George-in’ or something else after the name of the discoverers!) Antioxidants are good for quenching oxygen species that occur because of exposure to light. Remember oxygen species are chemicals which are the natural byproducts of chemical reactions using oxygen. We have lots and lots of those! However, oxygen species can run amok and cause lots of damage unless ’rounded up’ by antioxidants.

Anyway, Falsini et al proposed that by increasing the level of antioxidant protection with saffron there may be a way to allow damaged but still functional cells to recover. That was what their study was all about.

Now as studies go, this one did not appear to be very robust. There were only 25 people in the whole study, both treatment and control groups. That means only about 13 people got the treatment. I like studies with a larger n. That said, after 90 days of 20 mg of saffron daily, their treatment group did show a short-term, statistically significant effect on retinal functioning in those with early AMD.

Am I suggesting you take saffron pills every day? Absolutely not. Even with ‘cheap’ saffron, the pills they were using should have cost about $1.50 each. Many of you are on a fixed budget and another $10 per week spent on a source of antioxidants like that could be a burden.

Also remember, they found an effect in those with early AMD, no other stages.

What I am suggesting is this: there are dietary sources of antioxidants and a nice meal including saffron is one of them. You can get recipes using saffron on sites such as food.com, allrecipes.com and eatingwell.com just to name three.

It won’t hurt and it might even help.

“They call me Mellow Yellow……” Continue reading ““They Call Me Mellow Yellow””

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Domestic Goddess – Not!

OK.  I own it. Said it before. I have never and will never be a domestic goddess. I have never been a virtuoso in the kitchen. And you know what? I have no serious desire to do so.

I can do basic cooking. Both of my parents were able to make meals we did not mind eating and that kept us fed. My father was the world’s strongest proponent of meat, potatoes and a vegetable.

The first time my mother made spaghetti, we came home from an errand to find Daddy peeling potatoes! Did not matter the pasta was the starch; if you had dinner, you had potatoes!

So, I can boil potatoes. I can also bake them. I can make pot roast and soup and chili con carne and spaghetti with ‘doctored’ meat sauce, but I don’t cook often. Anything you can do in a microwave often becomes dinner.

As I was just microwaving my lunch, I started to think about nutrition. I get school lunches three times a week. Other times, if my body is telling me I need to eat something that will actually NOURISH it, I cook. (Big believer in listening to your body here.) But what about people who cannot do that? What if your vision or another infirmity makes it so you are required to depend on ‘quick and dirty’ for your meals?

First of all, school lunches. I cannot find it, but I could swear that under the government program that distributes ‘extra’ food to schools, there is a stipulation that says the elderly can eat in school cafeterias. Full of canal water? Possibly. If anyone actually knows, let me know. That one is a maybe. [Lin/Linda: I couldn’t find anything like that, sorry.  It’s a good idea!]

Meals on Wheels is an option in most areas. Daddy was not always crazy about the selections they had and the delivery schedule left something to be desired, but the meals were guaranteed balanced and nutritious.

Canada runs their own Meals on Wheels program. The U.K. appears to have something similar in the Meals at Home/Meals on Wheels program.

Then there is the whole slew of microwaveable dinners available at the grocery store. There seems to be a wide range of them with wildly varying food values.

Eat This, Not That! either has stock in Amy’s and Kashi’s or those companies make very good products! Those companies come up a number of times in The 46 Best Frozen Foods in America. Check out the link for the rest of the manufacturers.

In their article 10 Frozen Dinners That Pass the Nutrition Test, NOLA (New Orleans newspaper website) also recommends foods by Kashi, Amy’s Kitchen, and Tandoor Chef. Other companies are Evol, Artisan Bistro, and – names I actually know – Healthy Choices, Lean Cuisine and Weight Watchers.

Most of what was recommended is decidedly not meat, potatoes and a vegetable. Daddy would look askance at more than several of the choices suggested. However, if your tastes are different from what my father’s were I would suspect you can find two or three that you can eat.

Decent nutrition even a few times a week is better than none at all.

P.S. If you are looking for breakfast cereal, Cheerios and Total come in 9 and 10 in a listing by Greatist!.  Of the 20 Cereals That Are Actually Healthy, the top three were made by Barbara’s. This may a Canadian company although there are distribution centers in California and Kentucky. All I know about them is what I have read online. Continue reading “Domestic Goddess – Not!”

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Electron Rustlers

Let me preface this page by explaining how I passed chemistry: I did not understand a word the teacher said. He was so far out in left field I was never going to find him. I say it was bad teaching but maybe I was not being very bright.

Two of my friends sat behind me designing race cars. Never listened to a word of the lecture. After being confused for 45 minutes, I would turn around to the guys and they would clear everything up in 45 seconds.

I was terrified to try physics. That was the end of me and the hard sciences.

Moral of the story? You probably should not listen to me try to explain oxidative stress.  You have been warned so I am forging ahead.

I keep running into titles like The Role of Oxidative Stress in AMD. Great. It is important. What the hey is it?

Revisiting my horrible experience in chemistry my junior year, I vaguely remember learning atoms have electrons that spin around the nucleus in shells. Shells are orbits and for simplicity sake we will say they go out from the nucleus in concentric circles. (They really don’t but cut me a break. Two kids drawing race cars saved my chem grade.)

Each of the shells has an ideal number of electrons that orbit there. Although a shell is generally OK without the ideal number, it still tries to have that number. Sometimes it loses some electrons. Sometimes it steals some electrons and sometimes it shares some electrons with another atom that is also longing for its ideal number.

This desire to be ‘whole’ and to fill its outer shell with the ideal number of electrons is what is called being reactive. Often being reactive is a great thing for an atom. It gets to hook up with other atoms and make all sorts of crazy new molecules.

However there are times reactivity is not a good thing. Sometimes an atom may do some ‘electron rustling’ and steal from a neighbor. That atom is now out of kilter and it does some electron rustling of its own. Before you know it, there is a full-blown range war going on in your atoms. There is no peace in the valley!  This is oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress, just like a range war, can leave a lot of destruction in its wake. With all that electron rustling happening, things get damaged and broken. This is some of what is happening in our eyes.

You cannot totally eliminate oxidative stress but there are ways to restore the peace. Enter antioxidants.

Antioxidants have electrons to give to that first electron rustler. They allow that atom to be ‘complete’ by donating some electrons to fill its outer shell. If that atom has its needs satisfied early, it won’t feel the need to go rustle. Range war – errrrrrr, oxidative stress – averted.

Vitamins C and E are antioxidants. Also vitamin A. [Lin/Linda here: if you have Stargardt’s Disease, you do NOT want any extra vitamin A. Click here to read more about why that is.] Eating red, orange and yellow fruits and veggies can be very good for you. You can also get antioxidants in supplements. However, like all good things, they should be indulged in with moderation.

So that is my take on oxidative stress. I hope the guys would be proud of me.

Click here for another explanation of oxidative stress by Dr. Andrew Weil.

Continue reading “Electron Rustlers”

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I Am Not a Doctor

Commentary: Lin just sent me a post from someone in the Facebook group. She asked for my reactions. The person is claiming he completely reversed neovascular (wet) AMD with nutritional treatments. Here goes.

First the disclaimer. I am not a doctor. I am not a nutritionist. I am a woman with dry AMD who has tried to educate herself about her disorder. Therefore I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, have all of the answers. End of disclaimer.

That said, let me congratulate him on his greatly improved vision! I am glad he are doing well.

I know some of what he says is true. In general the diets of those in the developed world are atrocious. We should be eating many more fruits and vegetables, especially our leafy greens, than we do. The reason taking the AREDS/AREDS2 supplement works to slow the progression of the disease is probably our poor diets. If we ate well, the supplements would not be so needed. [Lin/Linda: I have to mention that there is some risk taking the AREDS or AREDS2 with 80mg zinc.  It can cause problems in the genitourinary tract but there is evidence that for people with certain genes, that high dose of zinc can cause their AMD to progress faster. Since not everyone has easy access to the genetic tests, there are supplements with no zinc or less zinc.  Check out this post for more information.]

Angiogenesis is the growth of new blood vessels. This is a hallmark of wet AMD. There is some evidence angiogenesis is part of the healing process and may be triggered by inflammation (Reiner O. Schlingemann in Role of Growth Factors and the Wound Healing Response in Age-Related Macular Degeneration). There is also evidence that retinal hypoxia (in English? Your retina is gasping for oxygen) is a trigger for angiogenesis and neovascular (wet) AMD. (Citation same guy. It is so nice not to have to follow APA format😁 [Lin/Linda: APA is the American Psychological Association and when you write something for them, you need to follow a very strict format for references to articles.]

That said, theoretically it is possible he hit upon a combination of nutrients that would reduce inflammation and increase oxygenation to his retina, thus somehow stopping the angiogenesis. Did this happen? No clue. I am just sort of a slightly-too-smart-for-my-own-good, visually impaired lady. (Gets me in a lot of trouble.) Is it possible? Sure. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophies.” (That is the bard, of course).

Now, it would be my supposition – again totally unfounded – he was not in advanced AMD and had not experienced much if any photoreceptor death i.e. geographic atrophy. Unfortunately from what I have been told dead is dead with those. They would not have come back.

That is pretty much my take on it. Again when it comes down to it, I know nothing but I have a helluva lot of opinions. Don’t believe me. Offer your opinions. What do you folks think? Continue reading “I Am Not a Doctor”

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Taking Care of You

Morning. I have nothing until noon and I just slept until 8:30. Whoa. Must have needed it.

Which brings me to the topic for this page: a quick review on self-care. I forget and I even teach the stuff! I suspect you forget, too.

We were gone for nearly two weeks. Iceland meant new climate, new food, new routine, new time zone. These are all stressors. The human body was meant to cover the distance between here and there in five months, not five hours. Then I came home and was not at the top of my game for something important. More stress.

I am sure you know about you. Me, I show stress by not sleeping and sometimes I get a migraine. I had two last week. While migraines are not fun, they tell me something. I need to stop the nonsense and take care of myself! That means a big dose of PLEASE.

Off schedule, my husband and I both missed our meds a couple of times. I needed to take care of my physical illnesses by getting back on my meds on a regular basis. That meant being sure I took my meds right after brushing my teeth like always. Routine.

Eating properly had to happen which meant I had to – gasp! – cook. My big deficit is vegetables. For me, carbs and salt are basic food groups. I had to avoid that and provide myself with meat, potatoes and a vegetable or two or three.

Balanced nutrition was a must. We are what we eat….in that case, I’m popcorn!

Avoiding intoxicants has never been a problem for me but if you are the type to have a couple of beers or a few puffs to destress on a regular basis, you should stop. Not good for you.

I say that and then I turn around and say I took an OTC nighttime pain reliever to sleep. This is not an every night thing, however. I also used aromatherapy with a little Vicks Vaporub and did my square breathing.

Remember to sleep in a cool, dark room. Limit your screen time before bed. That is what the experts say.

Exercise has been royally screwed up this week because two of my rides had other obligations. Back into the groove tomorrow. In the meantime I had my husband take the Beastie Baby and me to the beach for our walk.

A good dose of nature is good for what ails you. Gently running water is great for providing a little dose of tranquility.

I admit, attention hog that my husband says I am (and I am. I love positive regard), I did have a few other mood boosters. My third job boss is coming half way to pick me up and take me up there. They have work for me. I may be pitiful but knowing I am wanted means a lot.

Then it turns out I did not do as abysmally in the photo contest as I thought I had. Out of three entries I had a second and an honorable mention! Yippee!!!!

To make matters better, my life-long friend the artist had three paintings in the associated art contest. She earned two firsts and a second! Taking photos of her paintings with their ribbons and hearing her reaction was the most fun of all! I “made (her) day!” , which was awesome.

Doing for others really does help you get over yourself.

Time to get ready for work. I will get to reading that article about increasing visual span this evening. Who knows? Might help. Continue reading “Taking Care of You”

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I Have Macular Degeneration…Now What?

If you aren’t familiar with how to move around on our website pages, click here

Where can I quickly find information about AMD?

One of the best resources available is from the Prevent Blindness organization’s website called Guide Me.  You answer a few questions and you will get a personalized guide with important aspects of AMD based on your answers.  Click here to go to Guide Me.

What other websites are helpful?

Here are some of our favorites:

  • Click here for a video that covers important information about AMD
  • Click here for a description of dry vs. wet AMD (we are not recommending any products in this article)
  • Click here for an article about depression after diagnosis (which is common)
  • Click here for some answers to common questions about depression after diagnosis
  • Click here for an article about how vision rehabilitation helps prevent long-term depression
  • Click here for a very comprehensive page about wet AMD
  • Click here for a very comprehensive page about dry AMD
  • Click here for an article about how fast AMD progresses
  • Click here for 10 questions to ask your doctor
  • Click here to find a support group
  • Click here to find out should I take the AREDS or AREDS2 supplements?
  • Click here read about the role of nutrition in AMD
  • Click here for eye healthy foods including a Healthy Vision Grocery List
  • Click here for a January 2017 scientific review article“Nutritional and Lifestyle Interventions for Age-Related Macular Degeneration: A Review”
  • Click here to find out what vision changes/symptoms to look for
  • Click here to find out about the people who can help you (what are the differences between the types of eye doctors, do I need to see a specialist, etc)
  • Click here for tips on how to make the most of the vision you have
  • Click here for a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) that answers a long list of questions such as ‘will resting help my eyes?’, ‘Can I see for myself if my retina or macula shows any signs of damage before I have symptoms?’, ‘why don’t new eye glasses help?’, ‘what is meant by degeneration?’, ‘is a macular hole the same as macular degeneration’, ‘I have had dry MD for years. Does this mean I’m going to get wet MD too?’, ‘No one else in my family has MD. Why did I get it?’, ‘can drusen be treated?’, ‘I have changes on the Amsler Grid, does this mean I have MD’, ‘I have Wet MD but my Doctor says there is nothing he can do or no treatment available. Why is this?’

Where can I do more research?

Of course you can do searches on the Internet – there is a LOT of information there.  We have done a lot of research and here’s how you can find it.

  • through Sue’s Journal Pages. Sue became visually impaired early in 2016.  She is a psychologist trained in Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT), a cognitive behavioral therapy, and she writes about how she is using it to help her cope with this vision loss.
  • on our Resource page where there are links to many sources of information such as what is AMD, what is Stargardt’s Disease, organizations and websites with useful information, support groups, videos, books & reading materials, where to find vision services, where to find financial help especially for injections, personal stories, the science stuff, clinical trials & research (and how you can become part of one,  online newsletters, symptoms, possible causes/contributing factors, treatments, coping, how to take care of yourself…and more!
  • and in the posts in News/Highlights blog

There are more ways to get information from our website

Search or select CategoryYou can actually do research ON OUR WEBSITE!  You can find things such as in which of Sue’s journal pages does she talk about depression, where can I get more information about sunglasses or vitamins, etc.  If you are using a computer, for example a laptop, you may have seen the search box plus words under Categories and words under Tags/Keywords on the right side of each page. If you use a tablet or smartphone & the screen isn’t wide enough, unfortunately you have to go all the way down to the end of each page to see these sections.

Do you want to know in which pages Sue talks about depression? You can type the word depression (you can also type multiple words) in the search box or select the word depression under Tags/Keywords and you’ll get all of her pages where she talks about it plus you will get any of the News/Highlights posts as well as any matches in the Resources/Links or News/Highlights pages, too. If you want to find everything on our site about sunglasses, you could type the word into the search box or look for the word under Tags/Keywords and select it.

Tags/KeywordsIf you want a broader range of pages & posts such as ‘Tips for living with low vision’, you’ll see that under Categories.

 

 

 

 

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I’ve set up this page so that when you click on a link (words that are underlined & in blue or green), a NEW tab will open in your browser and this page STAYS WHERE IT IS.  When you are done with the new page you opened, just close it.  You do NOT need to use the back option.  If you click on a link and the new page replaces this one, I’VE MADE A MISTAKE so please let me know by sending me an email at light2sight5153@gmail.com.  Let me know exactly which link or links do not open a new tab or window.

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Linda & her dog Chase
Linda & her dog Chase

To find about more about me, about Sue, about our project, go to the menu at the top of the page for sections about each of those.

 

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