The Way I See It

There I sat moping because my eyes are getting worse and I didn’t know why.  So I did what I do best (and what brings me right up again, believe it or not) and started researching.  And I found multiple answers!  That’s terrific because I’ve already drunk my two cups of coffee today, so I couldn’t turn to them for solace.

You’ve probably figured out the answers are mostly Chronic Kidney Disease related. This is not something I wrote about in What Is It and How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease. When I researched for the book, macular degeneration never even peeked out at me. (How do you like that play on vision related words?  Macular – peeked?  No?  Oh well.)Book Cover

Anyway…. let’s do our usual back to the basics for a topic we haven’t visited in a while.  Macular degeneration is, “An eye disease that progressively destroys the macula, the central portion of the retina, impairing central vision. Macular degeneration rarely causes total blindness because only the center of vision is affected,”

according MedicineNet at http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=10027

I suppose the part about not causing total blindness should make me feel better, but I need more information first. The retina?  Anyone? No?

It’s, “… a multi-layered sensory tissue that lines the back of the eye. It contains millions of photoreceptors that capture light rays and convert them into electrical impulses. These impulses travel along the optic nerve to the brain where they are turned into images.There are two types of photoreceptors in the retina: rods and cones. The retina contains maculaapproximately 6 million cones. The cones are contained in the macula, the portion of the retina responsible for central vision. They are most densely packed within the fovea, the very center portion of the macula. Cones function best in bright light and allow us to appreciate color. There are approximately 125 million rods. They are spread throughout the peripheral retina and function best in dim lighting. The rods are responsible for peripheral and night vision.”

I had to dig deep for a thorough, yet easily understood definition. Thank you St. Luke’s Cataract and Laser Institute at http://www.stlukeseye.com/Anatomy/retina.html for helping out here.

Well, now you understand why I keep posting all those pictures containing glorious color.  That’s my way of saving up color for when I can’t see it anymore.  Although, it’s really the rods that are causing me most trouble right now.

Dim the lighting and I can’t tell what I’m looking at.  I don’t know where Bear is in a dim room unless he speaks and my poor black and white Bella!  She’s been walked into so often I don’t know why she doesn’t just run when she sees me coming.

However, it’s not as easy as just that.  There are two kinds of macular degeneration: wet and dry. I went back to our old pal Mayo Clinic at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wet-macular-degeneration/basics/definition/CON-20043518 for the definitions:

“Wet macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that causes vision loss in the center of your field of vision. Wet macular degeneration is generally caused by abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid or blood into the region of the macula (MAK-u-luh). The macula is in the center of the retina (the layer of tissue on the inside back wall of your eyeball). Wetmd image macular degeneration is one of two types of age-related macular degeneration. The other type — dry macular degeneration — is more common and less severe. Wet macular degeneration almost always begins as dry macular degeneration. It’s not clear what causes wet macular degeneration.”

Wait a minute.  Did you catch that “age-related macular degeneration”?  That’s what I have and that’s where the Chronic Kidney Disease comes into our equation.

I went to The National Institutes of Health website at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2390960/ to find the conclusions from a Journal of American Society of Nephrology study about the relationship between macular degeneration and Chronic Kidney Disease:

“…persons with moderate chronic kidney disease were 3 times more likely to develop early age-related macular degeneration than persons with no/mild chronic kidney disease.”

Thank you very much, CKD, for another undesired gift.  To be honest, although this has not shown up anywhere else in my family history, I don’t know if I would have developed macular degeneration even if I didn’t have CKD.  Apparently, smoking is another risk factor and that is something I played around with for decades – never becoming a chain smoker, but smoking nervously and socially.  Hey, we didn’t really know what the consequences could be at that time.

WebMD at http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/macular-degeneration/age-related-macular-degeneration-overview tells us the other risk factors:

“… high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and being light skinned, female, and having a light eye color are also risk factors for macular degeneration.”

racesUn-oh, I fit every one of these criterion (if light brown eyes are considered light eye color).  Sometimes I wish I had foresight instead of hindsight.  While I couldn’t have done anything about my race, sex, or eye color, there’s quite a bit I could have worked on as far as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and weight.

Because I am a Pollyanna and need to find hope everywhere, my hope here is that my experience can at least serve as an object lesson for our younger Chronic Kidney Disease sufferers.  Sort of a do-as-I-say, not do-as-I-do example, if you will.

Change of subject:  The digital version of the book continues to sell far better than print copies so I want to remind you of an Amazon.com offer.  If you – or anyone you know – order a print copy, you (or that person) can order the digital copy for $2.99 instead of the usual $9.99.  The program is called Kindle Matchbook. (http://www.amazon.com/What-Is-How-Did-Get/dp/1457502143/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_img_1)

I especially recommend this program to medical students since I have found textbook rental companies trying to rent my book for one semester for more than it costs to buy the book.  Ridiculous!   This program is also valuable because you can share your digital copy with others.

Our Yom Kippur was filled with family and happiness.  If you celebrate, I hope yours was too.  If Eid al-Fitr is what you celebrate as a Muslim, my hope is that breaking the 30 day dawn to dusk fast of Ramadan was a joyous occasion for you. For the Catholics, I hope your celebration of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi was everything you’d hoped it would be.  All three were celebrated this past Saturday.  I’ll take that as an indication that there are more similarities rather than differences between people of different religions.  For everyone who didn’t celebrate a religious holiday this weekend, as always, I wish you health and happiness.

Until next week,

Keep living your life.

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