Too Much of a Good Thing

by Cora Lyn Sears (see her biography at the end of this page)

2016 was a bad year. In the Spring I lost my hair, in the Fall I was diagnosed with wet AMD. How much worse could it get?

About 11 years ago I was diagnosed with mild AMD in both eyes, and took the Vitalux brand AREDS2 eye vitamins faithfully twice a day. (my mother lost her vision to AMD).

At my regular optometrist appointment last Fall it was determined one eye had advanced to wet. I was devastated! I hadn’t noticed much change in my vision, except I needed slightly more light to read and the reading portion of my progressive lenses seemed to have gotten smaller. The Amsler Grid still showed the same few wavy lines and few very light ‘puffs of smoke’ but nothing terrible. The speed of what followed was a bit scary – an almost immediate appointment with a retinal specialist followed by my first injection the next day.

Before this I had known of the injections for wet AMD but hadn’t thought much about them, thinking incorrectly a few injections would stop it almost permanently.

To date I’ve had the first three injections followed by the OCT testing which showed bleeding still happening. Then two more and another test. Still bleeding. Now on my next group of three.

I had begun researching and discovered your Facebook page and website, spending more time online than I thought possible. The more I read, the more I needed to read. The links to articles about the amount of zinc in my eye vitamins being a possible problem led me to search for the ones with less zinc, which were actually not that easy to find. Someone on your Facebook page suggested Walmart, which is where I finally bought them and switched in the late fall. [Lin/Linda: there are several options from Walmart, only PreserVision have the exact ingredients from the AREDS2 research study.  Click here to see what’s available.]

Now the other part:

Last spring I started losing my hair and within three weeks I was completely hairless. Alopecia universalis!  I tried everything my doctor or I could find with no success. An appointment with a dermatologist confirmed my worst suspicions that this was permanent. Apparently an autoimmune problem. Zinc enhances immunity, right? And I had been overdosing on it for over 10 years. So less zinc should help the autoimmune caused hair loss, shouldn’t it?

But then why is so much zinc in the AREDS2 formula when AMD is connected to the immune system as well?

In January I grew a few eyelashes, then came a few baby fine eyebrow hairs. Now, 14 months after losing my hair and seven or so months after cutting down the amount of zinc, I am starting to see a tiny bit of new growth on my head – only perhaps a few dozen or so, but it’s a start.

It’s amazing how everything in our body is connected and works in harmony, until it doesn’t.

An afterthought… Use the Amsler Grid by a window, not in the bathroom. I saw more wavy lines and puffs of smoke there than I had seen in the bathroom.

written July 23rd, 2017


I’m a healthy 70 year old woman. That’s hard to write as I really still feel 40. I live in Victoria, a beautiful city on the west coast of Canada. I’m divorced with two children and one older teenage grandson. I hike about 5 miles three or four times a week with a wonderful group of like-minded women. I’m a retired journeyman painter with varied creative interests such as sewing and photography. I love to travel, whether a road trip or something farther afield. I’ve followed a low-carb diet for years. I’ve had both hips replaced due to arthritis and sometimes I think if this was 50 years ago, I’d be sitting in a corner in a wheelchair going blind.

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 5.00/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 5.00/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 4.67/5
Too Much of a Good Thing
Total Avg Rating: 4.90 out of 5 with based on 3 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Timeline Part 1: Advances in Treatment & Care for People with Macular Degeneration

It’s Lin/Linda.  I created this page to go with Sue’s page Not Your Parents’ AMD.  Like some of you, I had a loved one with AMD.  It was my father who was diagnosed with AMD in 2005 at the age of 82.  At the time, I was living 700 miles away and I did not know much about the disease or at what stage he was diagnosed.  He progressed to geographic atrophy (GA), that much I knew.  He was the sole caregiver for my mother who had Alzheimer’s Disease.  He continued to drive (not safely), take care of her and the house.  He was never referred to vision rehabilitation or offered any help other than being told to use handheld magnifiers.

I wondered how things have changed since then which led me to do this timeline review.  Not only have there been advances in the medical end of the field but also in the technology that is allowing people to remain independent for as long as possible.  That is if a person learns how to use the various devices and apps available.

I’ve based the categories of time on an article Age-Related Macular Degeneration
1969 –2004: A 35-Year Personal Perspective by Stuart L. Fine, MD published in 2005.  He says “In 1969, patients with AMD constituted a small part of a typical ophthalmic practice. From 1969 to 2004, the prevalence of AMD has increased, and the methods of evaluation and treatment have changed dramatically.”

I know I have missed many events that have been critical to the history of the treatment & care of AMD.  There is SO much information out there and I’ve tried to use the most significant dates I could find.  Have a suggestion of what to include? Did I get a date wrong? Let me know in a comment or send me an email at light2sight5153@gmail.com.

1st Era: 1969–1979
  • Emergence of fluorescein fundus photography: test used in diagnosis of retinal diseases
  • Development of ‘hot’ (high power) laser photocoagulation, first treatment for wet AMD
  • Relationship of drusen to age-related macular degeneration
  • Other developments:
    • 1976-1977 first personal computers affordable for home use
    • more low vision aids:
      • 1960s large print books became available
      • 1976 large print calculators became available
      • 1969-1970 CCTV (closed caption TV) for reading aid
2nd Era: 1980–1994
  • Clinical trials to evaluate new treatments, especially laser photocoagulation (1979-1994)
  • Development of risk factor data from large and small epidemiologic studies (epidemology is looking for patterns & causes)
  • mid-1980s term ‘senile macular degeneration’ becomes ‘age-related macular degeneration’
  • Other developments:
    • 1982 Vitreous Society was founded; 1983 first meeting attended by 44 retinal specialists
    • 1991 OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) test used in diagnosis of retinal diseases
    • mid 1980s name changed from ‘senile macular degeneration’ to ‘age-related macular degeneration’
    • 1992 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
    • 1983 first cell phones
    • 1991 World Wide Web for ‘surfing’ the Internet with easy-to-use browsers
    • low vision aids:
      • MaxiAids catalog of aids for orders from people with low vision & other impairments
    • technology/low vision aids:
      • 1982 DragonSystems founded Dragon NaturallySpeaking, speech to text
      • 1988 ZoomText was released which is software to magnify text on a computer screen
3rd Era: 1995–2003
  • Evaluation of radiation therapy for neovascular AMD, not proven to be effective
  • Assessment of pharmacologic interventions for neovascular AMD; Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) “cold” (low power laser) with Visudyne (first drug treatment;  2001)
  • Prevention trials: results AREDS released 2001
  • Other developments:
    • 1995 Amazon sells books online (1998 expands beyond just books; e-books 2000)
    • 1996 Google released
    • 1998 first e-book reader The Rocket
    • 2000 GPS available for civilians; 2001 personal navigation systems available like Garmin and TomTom
    • 2000 Microsoft & Amazon sell e-books
4th Era: 2004 – 2017
  • Completion of ongoing trials for neovascular AMD: FDA approval: Macugen 2004; Avastin 2004; Lucentis 2006; Eylea 2011
  • Earlier identification of eyes at risk: regular use of OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography) and other diagnostic tests
  • Prevention trials: results AREDS2 released 2013
  • Increased number of retinal specialists: eg, American Association of Retinal Specialists (ASRS), formerly Vitreous Society (see 1982 above), has 2700 members representing 60 countries.
  • Other developments:
    • 2011 First baby boomers turn 65
    • 2004 Facebook
    • 2013 first ‘bionic eye’ retinal implant, Argus II approved by FDA
    • technology:
      • 2007 Amazon Kindle e-reader; iPhone & Apple IOS
      • 2008 Android 1.0 & Android phone
      • 2010 Apple iPad
    • technology/low vision aids:
      • 2005 Apple VoiceOver for Mac users
      • 2009 VoiceOver added to iPhone IOS
      • 2010 FDA approved implantable telescope
      • smart glasses/wearable technology
      • 2014 KNFB Reader app for Apple & Android; 2017 for Windows 10
    • ongoing research areas:

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Timeline Part 1: Advances in Treatment & Care for People with Macular Degeneration
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Genetic Rant & Roll – The Miniseries: Part 10

Lin/Linda here:  Here we are, at the end of what seems like a long journey.  We want to wrap this up with some thoughts we each have about the value to us of the genetic testing that we had and offer some words about genetic testing in general.

Before I start, we want to thank Gerry at ArcticDX for having us tested and for patiently explaining the results to us.  We’ve learned a lot.  Of course, as we’ve mentioned several times, there are other sources of genetic testing (there’s a link at the bottom of Part 1).  Let’s first discuss the testing that we had which is the Vita Risk test.

Benefit to me

I’m not the ‘typical’ person to be tested in that I don’t have AMD but I am very glad that I found out that I am zinc sensitive which means that if/when I develop the disease, I will NOT take zinc but I should take the antioxidants that are in the AREDS/AREDS2 supplements.  As to whether knowing that I’m in the 81st risk percentile is valuable, I expected to have a higher-than-average risk because my dad had AMD. But then again, my grasp of what numbers really mean has never been that great! ::smile::

General benefit in my opinion

I think that the real value is for people with early, intermediate or advanced AMD in only one eye to have both the Vita Risk and Macula Risk testing.  In addition to knowing what supplements will help or harm, the patient can find out what their risk is of developing advanced AMD in the next 10 years.  That information can help their eye doctor manage their care in the best way possible.

For someone who is categorized as high risk (M-3 or M-4), that may also provide the motivation the person needs to work on their part of the equation which is the 30-40% of the overall risk that is based on lifestyle factors like nutrition, weight, exercise, blood pressure and cholesterol control and smoking.

Even before I had the Vita Risk test, I knew I would have a higher-than-average genetic risk so I’d already started to work on my issues with nutrition, weight and exercise.  Luckily, my blood pressure and cholesterol are fine.

Zinc

There are some people who believe that the solution to one’s concern as to whether they are zinc sensitive is to not have genetic testing done but to take a supplement with a low dose of zinc or without any zinc.  That is an option and may be the only one available to those whose eye doctor does not work with genetic testing like this or for those whose insurance won’t pay for it.  Some things to consider:

  1. Zinc did help some people in the AREDS1 & AREDS2 trials but there was also benefit without it.  In both studies there was a group who received antioxidants with zinc and one who received antioxidants only.  The reduction of progression to advanced AMD was significant for both groups:
    1. antioxidants with zinc: 25% reduction
    2. antioxidants without zinc: 17% reduction
  2. Supplements, vitamins and minerals are not regulated by the FDA. However, the National Institute of Health has guidelines.  For zinc in terms of safety, the upper limit is 40 mg.  The dosage used in the AREDS1/AREDS2 studies was 80mg.  There was a subgroup in AREDS2 where the dose of zinc used was 25 mg and they found no difference between the results of it and with the results of the groups who got 80mg.
  3. For those who are zinc sensitive, even 25 mg is considered to be too much.

The point is that everyone has to make their own decision as to how to handle the issue of benefit vs risk of taking zinc without the knowledge that comes from genetic testing.  Is the difference between 25% reduced risk of advanced AMD with zinc that much MORE than 17% without zinc?   I’m certainly not the person to ask about that one! ::smile::

 

Continue reading “Genetic Rant & Roll – The Miniseries: Part 10”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Genetic Rant & Roll – The Miniseries: Part 10
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

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”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
I Am Not a Doctor
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

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.

 

 

 

 

 Go back to the top

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.

Go back to the top

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.

 

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 5.00/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 5.00/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 5.00/5
I Have Macular Degeneration…Now What?
Total Avg Rating: 5.00 out of 5 with based on 2 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me