I Vote for Tahiti

Greetings. Now that I have wandered around in prehistory for a while I guess I should get back on track. I did enjoy the wandering, though. I always liked anthropology. Too bad there are so few paying jobs in the field.

On track….Lin wanted me to talk about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the holiday blues. SAD first.

SAD is an odd form of depression. As I said before, it probably has some deep roots in the species. It probably is endogenous (from the inside) rather than exogenous (happening as a result of something outside) in its causes.

Except for the season and/or the geography, you cannot point to something – an event – and say that is why you are depressed. No blaming SAD on your boss or your mother-in-law.

SAD occurs more often the farther you get from the equator. It happens more during the dark of winter. It is thought all that darkness messes with your biological clocks. They are still trying to figure out what actually goes on. However, the results of whatever it is include difficulty waking, decreased energy and lethargy, carbohydrate craving, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, decreased libido, withdrawal, depression, anxiety and irritability. Lovely.

Since SAD spontaneously goes away in the summer the thought became to either take the sufferer to the sun (I vote for Tahiti!😜) or to bring the sun to her. Enter light therapy. (Apparently we can’t afford Tahiti. Dang.)

Light therapy works. It reduces depression, fatigue, sleepiness and all sorts of other things. Ready for the but? Light therapy is contraindicated for those with retinal disease. That is us. [Lin/Linda here: The problem with light therapy where you sit in front of a ‘light box’ with a bulb that simulates daylight is that it does contain blue light.  The topic of blue light & retina damage is controversial but why tempt fate? Click here for more information on this.]

Now what? Light therapy is pretty much out but there are other courses of action. Antidepressants have been found to be effective. However it normally takes several weeks for antidepressants to reach full effectiveness so you need to start taking them ahead of time. Psychotherapy has had successes. Ditto on the time lag for that, too.

Just to be on the safe side, if you are suffering from seasonal depression, or any depression, you should make sure everything else is in good working order. Thyroid problems can cause depression. Also low vitamin D is a culprit. Dr. Weil reported 70% of Americans are D deficient. Apparently nobody but me is drinking her milk!

Other sources such as Living Well With Low Vision suggest the judicious use of melatonin not only in supplement form but also by regulating its natural flow. Blocking blue light for several hours before bed moves the production of melatonin up in time so it is not still being produced and making you groggy and cranky in the morning.

I would think if you don’t have lenses that block the blue you could get similar results by nixing the screen and listening to BARD books in a dark room, but I have nothing to prove that hypothesis.

Then there are the really ‘radical’ depression fighters like getting up and taking a morning walk! Not only do you get the morning sun but somewhere I read 40% of all depressions respond to exercise. There are studies being done that suggest a rise in body temperature improves mood. I admit to being both a nature freak and an exercise nut, but my positions are being endorsed more and more by science.

That’s SAD. What is SAD? Depression. That’s SAD.

Next, the holiday blues, as requested. Continue reading “I Vote for Tahiti”

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News: Sept. 1-2, 2016

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Highlight: What can I do to protect my eyes outdoors?

Light from the sun & light from artificial sources can be good for us but also bad for us.  It’s important to know the difference.

Sunlight contains 3 components: infrared, visible & non-visible light which is called the light spectrum. The non-visible light is called ultraviolet (UV) light which is broken down into UVA, UVB and UVC zones.   UV light can cause damage to our eyes, particularly the cornea and the lens. The cumulative effect of UV exposure can contribute to cataracts as well as other eye disorders of the front of the eye.

In the visible light part of the spectrum, blue light reaches back to the retina.  The cumulative effect of blue light exposure has been linked to development and progression of AMD.

Non-visible (ultraviolet-UV) light & visible light
Non-visible (ultraviolet-UV) light & visible light

 

UV light can negatively affect the cornea and lens. Blue light can negatively affect the retina.
UV light can negatively affect the cornea and lens. Blue light can negatively affect the retina.

Click here for a detailed explanation including how light affects our skin & eyes.

 

 

Here’s a diagram showing the parts of the eye that can be negatively affected by different parts of the spectrum.

 

 

Light is also necessary for various functions which is why we don’t want to filter out all of the light:

  • It helps us to see better.
  • It helps us with our visual acuity including ability to deal with contrast.
  • It helps us perceive colors.
  • It helps with various non-visual functions of the body including our sleep/wake cycle which helps us to maintain & use memory, mood and hormonal balance.

Click here for a more detailed explanation of the various components of light.

Click here for an article about blue light and its effect on our sleep/wake cycle.

The key to preventing & stabilizing AMD is to allow our eyes to receive the beneficial rays of the sun while filtering out the harmful rays.  We can do this by using sunglasses outdoors and proper lighting indoors.

Outdoors: Wear sunglasses to filter out harmful rays of the sun

Protect your eyes outside by wearing a hat or visor even on cloudy days. Always wear good quality sunglasses that have the following characteristics:

  • Type of lenses: ones that filter out 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays.  UVC rays are the most dangerous but luckily our ozone layer filters out most of it (this is why it is so important to protect our ozone layer).
  • Look for the ‘blue blocker’ feature which filters out the blue light from the spectrum. Not all sunglasses labeled as such block out the same amount of blue light– Look for a %.  It’s not enough to have an amber or orange tint.
  • As far as which sunglasses are best for you, it can be complicated to find a pair that blocks out not only a high % of blue light but also UVA and UVB light.  Ask your eye doctor/doctors and optician what is best for you.  Some have light meters that can tell you how well your current pair are doing regarding these features.
  • Types of sunglasses: clip-on, regular, ones you can wear over eyeglasses.
  • Make sure they have side panels and top & bottom panels over the top to keep light from coming in around the sunglasses.
  • Search results amazon.com ‘sunglasses filter out blue light’, notice that not all designs have panels all around to keep light from coming in.
  • Great article with things to look for in sunglasses including not only UV & blue light protection, but also glare, glare, visibility and enhanced contrast.
  • This site says that they will give you a free pair of Cocoon sunglasses for participating  in their study. I know people who have participated in this and received the free sunglasses.

Click here for more detailed recommendations about protecting your eyes and skin based on how long you are in the sunlight.  See the section ‘UV Protection Recommendations’.

Coming soon!

Indoors: Filter out harmful rays while providing enough light for tasks

Not only do we need to know about the types of bulbs & lamps that are available but also what we can do to protect our eyes from harmful light that comes from devices we use every day such as computers, tablets, cell phones, etc.

 

 

 

 

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Highlight: What can I do to protect my eyes outdoors?
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News: Apple releases new feature for iPhone that will help people with low vision & others

  • March 2016: Apple just released a new feature for people with low vision & those of us who want to prevent it.  Research shows that blue light from various sources (see below for more info) can adversely affect our vision.  Also, there is some evidence that the blue light from our mobile devices when used at night will make it more difficult to fall asleep.  The new feature called Night Shift allows you to adjust the screen on your iPhone so that it is ‘warmer’.  Read more about it.  You need to update your iPhone’s IOS to at least 9.3 first.

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Resources

Please read the disclaimer.  I will also admit that I have not read every word of every reference.  I’m just trying to provide resources to help you do your own research in addition to what we have found. – Linda…

updated June 17, 2017

Navigating: There are a lot of links here.  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.

Errors: If you click on a link and you get a ‘page not found’ error, 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.

Additions: If you have a link you’d like to add, please email at light2sight5153@gmail.com.


Topics-click below to move to a topic

Links We Like

  • Click here for a GREAT resource where you answer some simple questions and you get a customized guide based on your responses
  • Click here for a great glossary
  • Click here to take several quizzes to test your knowledge of the disease
  • Click here for Low Vision Resources: A List of Lists (such as 8 ways to slow AMD, 15 tips for family and friends, etc)
  • Videos
    • Click here for several videos
    • Click here for the UK Macular Society’s Say Hello to Mac
    • Click here for one that uses illustrations and animation (explains how wet AMD progresses and how the injections work)
  • 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
  • Click here for a very comprehensive page about wet AMD
  • Click here for a very comprehensive page about dry AMD
  • 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?’
  • Click here for a short introduction to stems cells, what they are and how they can be used.
  • Click here for a summary of AMD research and developments in the past 12 months (posted June 2016)

See what vision is like at the various stages of AMD

Click here to find ways to see simulations of what vision loss due to AMD is like at various stages.


Glossary

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Websites devoted to AMD

listed in no particular order

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Websites containing information about AMD

listed in no particular order

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Support

Message Boards including ones from
By postal mail
  • Association for Macular Diseases
    210 E. 64th Street
    New York, NY 10021
    (212) 605-3719
    – Offers education and information on macular disease through seminars, newsletters, and a hotline. Offers counseling to patients and their families.
  • Macular Degeneration International
    is now a part of Foundation Fighting Blindness
    Toll Free Helpline 1-800-683-5555
    EMail: MDInfo@blindness.org
    – Provides support for people affected by inherited macular degeneration including Stargardt’s disease.
Start Your Own
  • Vision Support Group-download video presentations  This group provides free information and support through presentations to groups of senior adults affected by macular degeneration and related retinal diseases.  You can join & get access to their materials so you can use them in your own group.
On the phone/telesupport

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Where to find services

  • In the US: click here to find a low vision center, retina specialist, state agency, ophthalmologist
  • In the UK: click here to support services (listed on the right side of the page) such as skills for seeing, counseling, access to treatment…and more
  • In the US: click here to search for a wide variety of services (more than the link above)
  • In Australia: click here to find an ophthalmologist and optometrist
  • Worldwide: click here for resources worldwide

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Books and reading materials

Specific Titles

Sources of Books

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Videos

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Personal stories of living with AMD

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Online newsletters

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What is AMD?

Wet Form
Dry Form
How fast does AMD progress?
  • A good article about how difficult this is to answer
  • Great video that explains why early detection is important especially when detecting the change from dry AMD to wet

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What is Stargardt’s Disease?

Also called Stargardt’s Disease (SD) or Stargardt Macular Dystrophy (SMD) or Juvenile Macular Degeneration (JMD), it’s an inherited, juvenile macular degeneration. The progressive vision loss associated with Stargardt disease is caused by the death of photoreceptor cells in the central portion of the retina called the macula.

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The Science Stuff

Role of RPEs

Geographic Atrophy

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Symptoms

Charles Bonnet Syndrome/Visual hallucinations

Other problems with vision & AMD

  • problems with visual acuity, photostress, blindspots, color vision, sensitivity to light, depth perception
  • eye problems that have similar symptoms as AMD:

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Possible causes/contributing factors

Age

  • Age is a large factor but can start earlier
  • Much less common are several hereditary forms of macular degeneration, which usually affect children or teenagers. Collectively, they are called Juvenile Macular Degeneration. They include Best’s Disease, Stargardt’s Disease, Sorsby’s Disease and some others.  See Stargard’s Disease section above.

Diet/nutrition (working on this section)

  • diet low in various nutrients & high in others have been linked to AMD.
  • See Nutrition and Vitamins/Supplements under Self-care/self-maintenance below.

Race

Gender

  • AMD more common in women perhaps because women live longer than men

Uncontrolled high blood pressure

Uncontrolled high cholesterol

Smoking

Genetics

Blue Light

Eye Color

Aspirin & other medications

Other possible causes

  • Biological Process in Wet AMD – some evidence that the photoreceptors are starved by the lack of food (oxygen & nutrients in the blood) and the growth of blood vessels is to compensate for that.

Connection between AMD and Alzheimer’s Disease

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Treatments

  • FDA approved options in the US, injections, implantable telescopes, laser treatment (also outside the US)
Injections for Wet AMD
Telescopic implants
Are there new treatments in the pipeline?
Vitamins (see Self Maintenance/Self Care section below)

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Research/Clinical trials

 

How can I become a part of a clinical trial?

  • A list of sources of information about clinical trials and how to find out for you to participate in.
  • You can search for clinical trials from the links above
  • There are registries where you sign up and enter information about the status of your eyes.  Researchers will use this information to find people that match their research and contact you.  Click here for more information about these registries in the US and elsewhere

Gene Therapy

Bionic Eye/Retinal Implants

  • What is a bionic eye?  It’s also called retinal implant or retinal prosthesis.   Implant is put in retina, camera worn by person sends image to implant which stimulates optic nerve
  • Click here for overview of retinal implants including videos of how it works & interviews with people who have them.
  • March 21, 2016 UK Bionic eye being tested
  • Here’s an article about one being developed at Carnegie Mellon institute in Pittsburgh, PA.

Nutritional Supplements

  • See Vitamins/Supplements section below.

Stem Cells

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Coping with low vision

Low Vision Aids

Wearable Technology

  • coming soon!

Suppliers of low vision aids

Financial Help

Sunglasses

Lamps

Transportation

  • A website for the US where you enter your zip code and transportation options for your area will be shown.

Bioptic Driving

Depression

Checking vision

Amsler Grid

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Self maintenance/self care

Low vision rehabilitation

Vitamins/Supplements

Nutrition

Exercise/Activity

 


More to come, you can check out these posts now

Video: Overview of Assistive Technology for People with Low Vision

Highlight: How do I use Zoom for Apple products?

Highlight: What about Apple’s accessibility features?

News: Top 10 Low Vision Aids for AMD

 


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What to Do

Unfortunately, there are very few things that can be done for dry AMD. My ophthalmologist suggested the AREDS vitamins and sunglasses. These are things that will slow down progress of the disease but will not cure it.

AREDS stands for Age-Related Eye Disease Study. Several years ago it was discovered that certain combinations of vitamins and minerals will retard the process of deterioration. Today, there are probably a dozen different types of eye vitamins that advertise AREDS formulas.

Taking your vitamins is a wise idea.

Wearing your sunglasses is also a wise idea. The research suggests that ultraviolet light, that is blue and purple, is very harmful to your eyes. If anyone in your family has AMD or you have been diagnosed with AMD, it is important to wear sunglasses with UV protection.

Wearing your sunglasses is a wise idea.

I was a good girl. I took my vitamins every day. I also have the most serious, rocking, collection of sunglasses you have ever seen. It became a joke. Whatever color I was wearing my sunglasses match. If you were going to be given lemons, you might as well make lemonade, right?

If you were going to be given lemons, you might as well make lemonade, right?

What my sweet, wonderful ophthalmologist did not tell me was how to cure what ails me. In fact, he told me there was no cure–well, ain’t that just dandy? He did tell me that it is a slow-moving process (more on that little mess later) and that my right eye might very well hang in.

Continue reading “What to Do”

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