Rock On!

Over the past year I have developed a certain affection for Cheeseheads. Wisconsin seems to do a lot for people with visual impairment. However, I am starting to think the Beaver Dam researchers may be a bunch of killjoys!

Wisconsin? Beaver Dam? Yep. Beaver Dam is a town with between 16,000 and 17,000 people located along the Beaver Dam River and, yep, Beaver Dam Lake. I guess they ran out of catchy names. (Actually, that really DID happen in upstate New York. I got a giggle out of the fact they gave up and just started numbering lakes!)

But back to Wisconsin. The Beaver Dam study started in 1987. Since then they have regularly polled and tested the folks about all things vision. A big area of interest for them has been macular degeneration.

Lin sent me a 2004 article on how the Beaver Dam people found a correlation between sunburns in youth and macular degeneration. Problem was she sent it Friday evening. The evening before I was going to “Brigg’s”, an outdoor blues/music festival. Really???? Why now? [Lin/Linda: in all fairness, I did not know about Brigg’s until AFTER I sent Sue the article!]

To make a long story sort of short, I put on my ‘dancing shoes’, slathered on the sunscreen and went. The article said sunburn in your youth. Sixties are not youth; right? Had a great time.

I decided old rockers never die; they just go to music fests. I saw more gray ponytails – male and female – than I had ever seen in one place before in my life. Rock on!

Came home and I am looking into this sunburn and AMD stuff. After all, outside is one of my favorite places!

The article Lin sent me says people with 5 or more hours of sun exposure are more likely to have increased retinal pigment. Hats and sunglasses are associated with fewer soft drusen and RPE degeneration. 10 or more ‘severe’ sunburns in youth is more than twice as likely to be correlated with AMD later in life than two or fewer sunburns.

Something that was a relief to me was there was no correlation between time spent outdoors in winter sports and AMD. Apparently my day skiing right before I ‘lost’ my second eye had nothing to do with things. (Phew!)

The report kicks around several reasons for the sunburn/AMD correlation and finally decides more study is needed. Me, too. Khan, Shahid and Yates found a ‘suggestion’ of an association between sunburn prone skin and geographic atrophy. In 1998 the Blue Mountain Eye Study (hi, there, New South Wales!) found blue eyes can lead to AMD trouble. Sounds like the jury may still be out on sunburnt SKIN and AMD.

However, the jury has come in on sunburned eyes. The Southwest Eye Center reports photokeratitis, sunburn of the eye, can result in pterygium (a condition of the conjunctiva/cornea), cataracts and possibly cancer. AMD is listed on the page as a ‘maybe’.

Bottom line is this: wear sunglasses. Wear sunscreen. And, rock on! 😋

written July 9th, 2017

Next: Someone I Am Not

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