Hindsight is 20/20

Good evening! How are you all?

Lin has noticed I seem to have written soooo many pages they are overwhelming and confusing some people. She feels this is particularly true for some of the newbies who probably feel like they have walked in on the (boring and confusing) middle of a movie. [Lin/Linda: to be clear, those are Sue’s words! ::grin::]

Understood. Some of you are back in the shock and doom phrase and I am talking about getting newspapers on your phones and other trivial matters. Who wants to hear about that sort of thing while your world is unraveling?

In the interest of pointing you towards something that might actually be helpful, Lin is republishing some earlier pages for your attention and discussion. And I – always helpful – am going to add to the confusion by writing another page!😘

This page will have a catchy title thanks to Lin, but right now I am going to call it “What I know now that I wish I had known a year and a half ago”.

First, you are not going everything black and dark blind.

It is not good but neither is it quite that bad. You are losing central vision. Things will not be good for anywhere from about 15 to 60 degrees of arc. Since normal visual fields are 170 or so degrees of arc, you have the potential to lose about a third of your vision. Not anything to cheer about but better than 100%.

You may not be doomed to progress to end stage AMD.

About 15% of patients become ‘wet’. About 15% progress to geographic atrophy. That means you – starting out with drusen and a diagnosis of early AMD – have a 85% chance of dodging the proverbial bullet for end stage AMD. You may very well not get as bad as I am and a year and a half after my second eye went to hell, I am still functional. [Lin/Linda: a person can have both wet AMD and geographic atrophy in the same eye.  I don’t what that does to the %, if anything.]

You did not cause this.

Yes, AMD is caused but it was not caused by anything you did or did not do. The causes are in your genes. This is a heritable disease. There are dozens if not hundreds of genes that are being investigated to try to figure out how AMD is created. It appears AMD may just be the result of a genetic ‘perfect storm’ and there is no one to blame.

There may come a time you are seeing things.

I saw some odd stuff when my brain was working overtime to assign meaning to the faulty images my eyes were sending it. You are not psychotic (I hope you are not psychotic). This is Charles Bonnet Syndrome. When your brain gives up trying to assign meaning to false signals you will stop seeing weird ‘stuff’. In the meantime, enjoy the fantasy.

Point number last: There is an amazing amount of hope for treatment and eventually a cure for AMD.

Research is going on everyday. New discoveries are announced with regularity. The medical community is hot on the trail of something that will arrest the progression and may even reverse this disease. All we have to do is hold on.

OK. Those were my biggie when I first lost my second eye. What are you worried about? Please share and we can discuss it. Continue reading “Hindsight is 20/20”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 5.00/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 5.00/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 4.75/5
Hindsight is 20/20
Total Avg Rating: 4.90 out of 5 with based on 4 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

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”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Avoidable Blindness
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Research

Not being one to be told there’s nothing I can do about something, I went back to my research. There seem to be a couple of different avenues of research. They were working on lasers to blast the drusen, aka piles of eye-poop but it looked to me like a hoarder intervention. Somebody comes in and cleans up the mess one time. Problem solved for now but not later. They would have a clean place to live but would eventually start to become messy again. The second thing I found looked more like the Merry Maids that were cleaning up regularly. However, it did not solve the problem of who is going to feed the Master photoreceptors? The third option was to essentially put the RPE Servants that were left on steroids. The live ones would work harder but would that not mean they wear out more quickly?

Click here for a list of clinical trials studying dry AMD

There’s research focused on cleaning up the ‘eye-poop’ called drusen.

There was one I liked, OCATA, originally known as Advanced Cell Therapy (ACT) , that was trying to replace RPEs. They were actually giving the little guys some help in order to save the Master photoreceptors. The way they were doing this was with stem cells.

There’s research using stem cells to replace the RPEs.

Although some people see stem cell research as cutting up dead babies, this is not the case. There are several lines of stem cells that have been derived from fertilized eggs that were never implanted. Some of these lines of stem cells are 20 years old. They have been massaged and manipulated so that there would never be the possibility that they could become functioning human beings. If they were not being used for research they would be flushed down the proverbial toilet.

Stem cells can be harvested from old fertilized eggs not dead babies.

The research that interested me–and still interests me–involves stem cells that have been developed specifically to become RPE cells. The theory is that replacing RPE cells with new ones and giving the little Servant guys some help will allow more photoreceptors to live and turn light into sight.

So where, pray tell, does one find someone to do this procedure? The problem is that this is very new research. It has worked on rats and other traditional lab animals (and you college psychology students, I am not speaking of sophomores). However, work on human subjects is just beginning. At the time of this writing, hospitals in Florida, Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania as well as in foreign locales such as London and China have only completed phase 1 research. Phase 1 of any clinical study is the safety and tolerability portion.

Warning: there are doctors and clinics in the US that are offering costly stem cell treatments that have NOT been proven safe or effective through research.  Before you enter into any stem cell treatment, please do your homework!  Click here for an excellent article called Nine Things to Know About Stem Cell Treatments.

Click here for current research using stem cells for Macular Degeneration

Phase 1 results have been extremely promising. For those who are capable of using the web, there is a Lancet article by Schwartz and Regillo that summarizes the study. Essentially, they found the stem cells did not do anything strange or different when implanted in eyes. Preliminary data suggested that it was safe and tolerable. Even more exciting, they found positive therapeutic effects. A great number of the people who had volunteered and participated in the study showed cessation of deterioration and even improvement.

Phase 1 trials using stem cells is VERY promising.

So why not replace the photoreceptors as well as the RPEs? After all, when the RPEs die, the photoreceptors die. Would it not be reasonable to replace them both?

Unfortunately, medical science is not to this point as of yet. They have been successful in growing photoreceptors in the lab. They have been successful in implanting photoreceptors in the eyes of rats. The only problem is that these will not connect into the neural net. It’s sort of like having invented a cell phone without having a tower for it to work through. You can talk on your phone all day but the message goes nowhere.

They can grow photoreceptors in the lab, implanting them in rats but they won’t connect to the neural net.

That said, they are still working on it very diligently. Some of the literature suggests that it will be quite awhile. However, it will be coming.

If you are interested in seeing some of the studies that are being done on eyes and other medical research, I would invite you to go to the clinical trials website. It is a government website that lists all sorts of fascinating things. Many of them are looking for clients.

You will discover that there are dozens, if not more, of studies that are related to eyes. There are multiple studies related to Age-Related Macular Degeneration. So why would that be?

Someone, I am not remembering who at the moment, has launched the Audacious Goal Project. The Audacious Goal Project is aiming to eradicate blindness in the lifetime of some of you younger folks.

Click here to learn more about the Audacious Goal Challenge in Vision Research and Blindness.

Like the name says it is an audacious goal!

Why now?

And questioning again, why now? What is happening that vision is such a hot topic that we need a national program to deal with blindness?

The truth of the matter is, the pig through the population python is getting towards the end. We baby boomers from the 50s and the 60s have always presented challenges. We have always been very popular and our hot topics have been the topics of the nation. When I was a little girl, they were building elementary schools left and right. Then everything was sweet 16 and on through my lifespan. Right now, everything is security call buttons and retirement accounts. We drive the economy.

We baby boomers from the 50s and 60s have always presented challenges.

Because there are so many of us, our concerns are essential. One of our big concerns is vision. According to my research, AMD is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. In the United States alone there are as many as 11 million people who have some form of AMD.  They are predicting there will be 22 million by 2050! 

This is going to be a massive drain on the country. When somebody suddenly realized what the numbers were going to look like, they decided they had better do something to ameliorate the problem. Thus, all the research.

Click here for more facts & figures

As many as 11 million people in the United States have some form of age-related macular degeneration. This number is expected to double to nearly 22 million by 2050.

Continue reading “Research”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Research
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me