The Eyes Have It.

All these health issues for my family members and me!  Things do seem to happen in threes.  First there was Bear’s back (oh, why don’t I write about that next week?), then Nima’s gall bladder (She is doing very well, thanks) , and now my macular conception… I mean macular deception… no, I don’t, I mean macular degeneration.  I have a lot of resistance to this as you can see.  That probably has a lot to do with my love of reading and the fact that I’m a writer.  I’ll deal with it.

Anyway, I have gotten lots of questions about what this is.  It’s an eye problem.  The macula (macular means about the macula) is the layer of tissue on the back of the inside of your eyeball in the middle of your retina. The National Institute of Health’s Senior Health has a succinct definition of the disease at: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/agerelatedmaculardegeneration/agerelatedmaculardegenerationdefined/01.html macula

“Age-related macular degeneration, also known as AMD, is an eye disease that affects the macula, a part of the retina. The retina sends light from the eye to the brain, and the macula allows you to see fine detail.”

No one seems to know why it happens, but it does get worse as you get older.  There are two kinds.  Lucky me, I have the dry or non-neovascular or nonexudative kind.  Nonvascular means NOT new blood vessels, which is the wet or vascular kind of macular degeneration.  As for exudative, the medical dictionary at: http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/exudation, explains that exudation means:

“the escape of fluid, cells, and cellular debris from blood vessels and their deposition in or on the tissues, usually as the result of inflammation.”

Again, I have the nonexudative kind. So wet macular degeneration – the kind I do not have – consists of fluid escaping from the eye ball to form new blood vessels. I’m going to let Natural Products That Make a Difference handle this one since their explanation is both clear and succinct:

“Wet Macular Degeneration (also called neovascular or exudative) refers to a condition where the macula degenerates (just as in Dry Macular Degeneration), but as a result of hemorrhaging blood vessels in the eye or the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye. In Wet Macular Degeneration, abnormal blood vessel growth is triggered in the choriocapillaries (behind the retina) resulting in the leakage of blood and protein. The resulting fluid leakage and overgrowth of blood vessels can quickly damage the macula and its rod and cone cells, resulting in severe loss of central vision. Hemorrhaging of the blood vessels around the retina or macula can cause vision loss virtually overnight, much the same way Diabetic Retinopathy does. Even if the vessels do not hemorrhage, the growth of blood vessels on the macula or the retina can cause severe central vision loss (though this may not be as sudden).”

isYou can read more at: http://www.maculardegenerationtreatment.net/types_of_macular_degeneration.htm.

This may be corrected by surgery, something that is not available to dry macular degeneration sufferers.  That’s where the sarcastic “Lucky me” came in above.  However, you could also lose your vision overnight with this kind, so maybe I am lucky that I have the dry kind.

Dry macular degeneration is caused by drusen or yellow deposits made up of lipids (oh no, a fatty protein!) Of course, there has to be two kinds of these as well, hard and soft. The hard doesn’t seem to be problematic, or at least not for a long time, but the soft?  This one is a good indication you have AMD.  The soft drusen tend to cluster together and, with no distinct borders, it makes sense that would affect your vision.  Diagnosing does require your ophthalmologist perform a dilated eye examination. Now remember, no one knows what causes AMD so drusen are not the source, simply an indication of higher risk.eye exam

No surgery fix for me since I have dry macular degeneration, but according to the second Age Related Eye Disease Study or AREDS2 study (see http://www.nei.nih.gov/areds2/) , certain vitamins and minerals might slow down the rate of degeneration by 25%.  I don’t know about you, but I’ll take even a 25% chance.  These are my eyes!

My ophthalmologist had a formula made just for this purpose and wanted me to take it.  Of course he did.  He’s m yophthalmologist and my eyes are his first priority.  But, while I value them greatly, I made it clear my kidneys are my first priority.  This is where the Chronic Kidney Disease element comes into today’s blog.Book Cover

I’d had kidney stones, so I couldn’t take the vitamin C in the formula. There’s no kidney related reason not to take vitamin A, but it is included for the purpose of avoiding cataracts. I’ve already had cataract surgery so it wouldn’t do me any good. Same for vitamin E.

Zinc was in the formula, but this metal  – which is an essential trace element – contains cadmium which may cause kidney failure.  Goodbye zinc. Copper, another metal and essential trace element, was in the formula because zinc supplements can be the cause of copper deficiency. One problem. Copper can cause kidney damage if you take large quantities or take it over a long period of time.  Can’t take that.

And then there was Omega 3 Fish Oil, but I already take that to reduce the progress of my chronic kidney disease and in larger quantities than suggested by the ARED2 study. The antioxidants (inhibits the negative effects of oxidation) lutein and zeaxanthin are also in the formula and I am taking them separately.  I looked them up on WebMD before I made my decision.  This is what I found there:

Eye-related benefits: Lutein and zeaxanthin protect the eyes from harmful high-energy light waves, such as some ultraviolet rays in sunlight. Studies suggest that high levels of lutein and zeaxathin in eye tissue are associated with better vision, especially in dim light or where glare is a problem.”

You can read more about them at: http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/lutein-zeaxanthin-vision.

md imageThere were many more ingredients in this ophthalmologist’s formula and I’m beginning to understand that each ophthalmologist may slightly alter the formula he has made for his dry macular degeneration patients. So much information! The picture shows just about how I see. My problem seems to be more pronounced in the left eye and it’s not this bad yet.  That could take up to 10 years… or less, much less.

Have you taken a look at SlowItDown’s Facebook page yet?  Keep those suggestions coming, folks.

As for the book, I am gratified that so many people have made it a point to tell me how much it has helped them… or their patients.

Until next week,

Keep living your life!

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