Buyer Beware

We have a new teacher at school. Someone told her I have Macular Degeneration and she dropped me an email. It seems the job she had before earning her teaching degree was working for an eye doctor in Jersey. She assured me this man does amazing things with prisms. He was getting wonderful results with Macular Degeneration.

OK. Call me a spoil sport. Call me cynical but whenever a treatment comes out and it is described as amazing and wonderful, the red flags unfurl. “Danger, danger, Will Robinson!”

Now, I do not mean to say this poor doctor in Jersey is a quack. I do not mean to say he is a scam artist. What I mean to say is a little healthy skepticism is a good thing. Those of us who are losing our vision are all a little desperate. We all – or pretty close to all  – want to see again. That makes us vulnerable.

Do NOT – and I repeat do NOT – go off and hand over your life savings to someone claiming he has THE cure for Macular Degeneration. Do your research first.

I started some research. There really was not that much done by people I would trust without a lot of question. By that I mean I did not see many government or university studies. A lot of the papers were written by people who had a proverbial dog in the fight. I steer away from those.

In truth there was a lack of studies in general. In 2012, for example, Acta Ophthalmologica Scandinavia tried to put together a meta analysis of studies on AMD and prisms and only came up with nine papers. For those who are uninitiated, a meta analysis puts together the results of several studies and reanalyzed the data for one, big study.

Oh, by the way, Acta Ophthalmologica found positive effects from prisms, but they were not ready to give out any gold stars. They decided more study was needed.

I also scanned a research paper from 2015. This paper theorized the location of your scotoma – read “big, fuzzy spot through which you don’t see that well” – dictates where your preferred retinal loci may be. For preferred retinal loci (PRL) read “retina sections you like to use to try to see”. The PRL is where in your eye you try to move the imagine so you can sort of see it.

So, moving on from definitions, it appeared to me their theory is thar sometimes the PRLs in the two eyes can be located places that make it hard for the eyes to work together. That is, your left eye may be using eccentric viewing that puts the imagine above the macula while your right eye is trying to use eccentric viewing to focus the imagine to the left of that macula. Your eyes end up trying to go two directions at one time. The belief is that prism can be used in each eye to independently send the image to the preferred retina loci. The prisms would redirect the image instead of you going cross eyed.

Again, just a theory. We do not have a lot of proof on any of this.

Bottom line? Prisms appear to have promise, but not a lot has been proven yet. If you decide to try prisms, use common sense. Deal with people you know. Pay a fair price. It might help, but it also could hurt you in the wallet.

article

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1755-3768.2011.02336.x/full

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16767185

https://books.google.com/books?id=huC5XK77SvYC&pg=PA119&lpg=PA119&dq=Acta+Ophthalmologica+prisms&source=bl&ots=9sJ2HxHtqv&sig=2zuWxaa2C6Oh3Ydzbw0pq6UUOTc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwin5MD46qnMAhVD2SwKHRKdA5IQ6AEIUzAF#v=onepage&q=Acta%20Ophthalmologica%20prisms&f=false

http://www.allaboutvision.com/askdoc/eyeglasses.htm

Glasses for Macular Degeneration

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