Rock On!

Over the past year I have developed a certain affection for Cheeseheads. Wisconsin seems to do a lot for people with visual impairment. However, I am starting to think the Beaver Dam researchers may be a bunch of killjoys!

Wisconsin? Beaver Dam? Yep. Beaver Dam is a town with between 16,000 and 17,000 people located along the Beaver Dam River and, yep, Beaver Dam Lake. I guess they ran out of catchy names. (Actually, that really DID happen in upstate New York. I got a giggle out of the fact they gave up and just started numbering lakes!)

But back to Wisconsin. The Beaver Dam study started in 1987. Since then they have regularly polled and tested the folks about all things vision. A big area of interest for them has been macular degeneration.

Lin sent me a 2004 article on how the Beaver Dam people found a correlation between sunburns in youth and macular degeneration. Problem was she sent it Friday evening. The evening before I was going to “Brigg’s”, an outdoor blues/music festival. Really???? Why now? [Lin/Linda: in all fairness, I did not know about Brigg’s until AFTER I sent Sue the article!]

To make a long story sort of short, I put on my ‘dancing shoes’, slathered on the sunscreen and went. The article said sunburn in your youth. Sixties are not youth; right? Had a great time.

I decided old rockers never die; they just go to music fests. I saw more gray ponytails – male and female – than I had ever seen in one place before in my life. Rock on!

Came home and I am looking into this sunburn and AMD stuff. After all, outside is one of my favorite places!

The article Lin sent me says people with 5 or more hours of sun exposure are more likely to have increased retinal pigment. Hats and sunglasses are associated with fewer soft drusen and RPE degeneration. 10 or more ‘severe’ sunburns in youth is more than twice as likely to be correlated with AMD later in life than two or fewer sunburns.

Something that was a relief to me was there was no correlation between time spent outdoors in winter sports and AMD. Apparently my day skiing right before I ‘lost’ my second eye had nothing to do with things. (Phew!)

The report kicks around several reasons for the sunburn/AMD correlation and finally decides more study is needed. Me, too. Khan, Shahid and Yates found a ‘suggestion’ of an association between sunburn prone skin and geographic atrophy. In 1998 the Blue Mountain Eye Study (hi, there, New South Wales!) found blue eyes can lead to AMD trouble. Sounds like the jury may still be out on sunburnt SKIN and AMD.

However, the jury has come in on sunburned eyes. The Southwest Eye Center reports photokeratitis, sunburn of the eye, can result in pterygium (a condition of the conjunctiva/cornea), cataracts and possibly cancer. AMD is listed on the page as a ‘maybe’.

Bottom line is this: wear sunglasses. Wear sunscreen. And, rock on! ?

written July 9th, 2017

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Preventative Maintenance

Last night I got up to go to the bathroom and I was dizzy, really dizzy. My husband suggested it was my blood pressure so when I got to school I had the nurse check it.

I may not be the gold standard of 120/80 but I was not bad. I hate taking medication but I take it for my blood pressure. As I get older there is not only the possibility of blowing a gasket but there is some (inconclusive) evidence of an association between hypertension and AMD. In any case, I don’t want to make things worse in the eye department.

After being harangued and harassed for years about my blood pressure (part of the reason I have white coat syndrome!) and now taking medication, I was a little dismayed by a medicalxpress.com article reporting there are preliminary findings suggesting some blood pressure meds are associated with much greater risk of developing AMD! What is up with that?

As part of the Beaver Dam studies, they have been collecting data on eyes since 1987. Their data indicated there is a correlation between the use of vasodilators such as some people take for blood pressure and the development of AMD.

Please remember correlation does not mean causality. In other words they could be running together but one is not causing the other. For example, Florida has the largest number of elderly of any state but living in Florida does not make you old.

There are other factors at work. Just the same, something is related between them and we should figure out what it is.

The researchers also found that beta blocker use was associated with increased risk of developing AMD. In particular it was associated with the development of wet AMD. Beta blockers are used for treating heart disease.

Now the article did not say whether the control group also had some form of circulatory system disorder for which they were receiving different treatments. Therefore it is hard to say if it is the medication doing the damage, the underlying, circulatory disease doing the damage or a third factor underlying both the circulatory disease AND the AMD doing the damage. Inquiring minds want to know but we don’t seem to have an answer to that yet.

Because we don’t know, if you are concerned, talk to your doctor and see what he or she has to say before doing anything. Don’t make any drastic changes based on one study. Your doctor is your expert and you should make informed decisions in concert with him.

Me? My high blood pressure meds are diuretics so I don’t need to worry about the meds. However, if I had to guess – and this is a guess from a layperson – my money would be on an underlying genetic snafu wreaking havoc with both our circulatory systems and our eyes.

And until they can lift the genetic hood and make the necessary repairs on that level? Preventive maintenance, my dears, preventive maintenance. Watch what you eat, get your exercise and, yes, take your medication as prescribed.

April 12th, 2017

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Avoidable Blindness

I still get National Geographic even if I don’t read it cover to cover like I used to. I mean to get back to it – I really do; I love it! – but CCTV lights shining on glossy pages are a bit much. However, when my husband handed me a pile of old Nat Geos (National Geographics) and I saw the cover of September, 2016, I had to read at least one article. The title was The End of Blindness: Winning the Fight to See.

My first thought was “We have made the big time!” Cover of Nat Geo is absolutely the big time in my book. Then I thought “Everything they are saying about the incredible research and the discoveries made really is true.” Nat Geo for me is sort of like Walter Cronkite; if they say it, it is true.

The article has some scary statistics: 39 million people are not able to see, as in no functional vision at all. 246 million have reduced vision. That is rather a lot of people.

The article went on and talked about the research that is occurring. It talked about genetic engineering and stem cells. They also mentioned two different types of ‘bionic eyes’.

In addition, it mentioned that Sanford Greenberg has pledged $3 million in gold to the person who contributes the most to ending blindness by his end date, 2020, of course! (Better get busy on your cure projects!) The Audacious Goal Initiative continues going strong, handing out money to worthy research projects. People are putting their money where their mouths are and getting behind this campaign.

Eliminate all blindness by 2020? Great goal, but probably not attainable. Curing avoidable blindness might be possible. Avoidable blindness?

AMD is my condition and my passion. I am doing well but I would do a heck of a lot better if someone found a cure for this stuff. Problem is, according to Nat Geo, AMD is a piddly 1% of the total picture! It is important to you and me but it barely makes a blip on the world radar.

If our condition is so insignificant in the big picture, what is significant? Refraction errors. That is 43% of the problem. Nearly half of the vision problems of the human race could be cured by giving people glasses.

Guess that means we all get to dig in drawers and find our old spectacles. Call your local Lions Club to find the nearest collection box. Or better yet, Walmart Optical is supposed to collect them. Drop them off the next time you go shopping. Better they are helping someone to see than sitting in a drawer for the next decade or two.

And if you really want to get rid of more sight problems, try cataracts at 33%. In the developing world people with cataracts get to go blind. No one to do the operations is part of the problem. Nat Geo says Niger has 18 million people and 7 ophthalmologists! The other problem is funding. Subsistence farming does not allow one to pay for medical specialists.

One last plug and I am out of here. Nat Geo mentions a worthy charity: SEE International. Stands for Surgical Eye Expeditions. They provide cataract surgeries free of charge.

Done here. Bed time! Night! Continue reading “Avoidable Blindness”

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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 to read Are You a Senior Citizen Struggling with Vision Loss?
  • 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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I Have Macular Degeneration…Now What?
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News: Summary of AMD Research & Developments for past 12 months – June 2016

Here’s an excellent summary of the research and developments in the field of AMD.  It’s done by Dan Roberts of mdsupport.org which is a site I highly recommend for both information and support.

Click here for the audio with slides presentation. You don’t have to be able to see the slides, the audio is very clear.

Click here for a transcript of the presentation.

 

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