It’s Dark in Here!

Don’t you love it when you come inside to a darkened room and – to put it bluntly – can’t see shit? It is sort of embarrassing. You stand there looking gobsmacked that everything has gone black. You know you are in the way, standing in the freakin’ vestibule, but you’re afraid to move for fear of falling over something.  ‘Tis a dilemma and it only gets worse because your vision takes FOREVER to come back and people start asking if you are all right.

You now have an answer to that question. Just tell them you are having problems with the process that includes dilation of the pupils, increase in the sensitivity of the retinal rods and regeneration of rhodopsin.

Specifically, your dark adaptation stinks. Then ask them to lead you off to somewhere you can sit until you return to your senses – or more accurately, your senses return to you. After that explanation, they should be happy to leave you alone!

If you have AMD I would expect you have experienced delayed dark adaptation. Somebody’s headlights get you full in the face and that’s all she wrote. You come in from the garden and have to stand against the counter for ten minutes. Heaven forbid you have to go to the bathroom! Then you get to cruise furniture and the wall and hope the dog is not napping in the hallway.

It has now been confirmed that AMD and poor dark adaptation go together. (Can I say “Well, duh”?) In fact, it has been confirmed that poor dark adaptation is actually a harbinger of AMD. They are saying poor dark adaptation is a functional biomarker for AMD.  A biomarker indicates a disease state most likely exists. It is like smoke and fire.

It would appear poor dark adaptation can be used to our advantage. It may someday be measured in routine eye examinations. If a patient has delayed dark adaptation, some future treatment to prevent AMD can be started right away. That way dark adapting problems will be the only symptom of the disease the patient ever has to experience. Pretty nice thought. [Lin/Linda here: it’s no so far off.  Click here for an article that talks about a new vision test that does test for dark adaptation.]

And since I still need about 150 words and I know you have inquiring minds, let us ask what is rhodopsin?  Rhodopsin is a purplish red pigment found in the rod cells. Rhodopsin is important for sight in dim light. It is quickly depleted in bright light. Rhodopsin Is supposed to regenerate in dim light but does not do so all that well in certain disease processes.

Another interesting fact? Rhodopsin comes from beta carotene, basically vitamin A.  Beta carotene is found in carrots. That means that, once again, your mother was right. You really did need to eat your carrots to maintain eye health. You never saw a rabbit with glasses; did you?

You may now all groan.

Next: Hindsight is 20/20

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