Wednesday, August 12, 2009

macular degeneration

This is a terrible terrible disease...

My grandmother has it....It hinders her life. I cant imagine what it must be like..

DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
Age-related macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease marked by deterioration of tissue in the part of your eye that's responsible for central vision. The deterioration occurs in the macula (MAK-u-luh), which is in the center of the retina — the layer of tissue on the inside back wall of your eyeball.
Macular degeneration doesn't cause total blindness, but it worsens your quality of life by blurring or causing a blind spot in your central vision. Clear central vision is necessary for reading, driving, recognizing faces and doing detail work.

My grandmother has suffered with this for a long time now...Do you know anyone with this disease? If you do, please talk with them about this possibility..My Grandmother told me about seeing something. It looked like a picket fence with a ugly man standing there. An illusion, a hallucination, something. It didn't go away it was there..24/7....then after days or sometimes weeks, it would disappear. This was a big worry...

One day I happened to have an eye apt. I just casually mentioned this to my Dr, and he said he thought he might know what was going on. He left the room and came back with a notebook from a recent seminar he attended..he began to read to me about "Charles Bonnet" syndrome.

Hallucinations....... Additionally, some people with macular degeneration may experience visual hallucinations as their vision loss becomes more severe. These hallucinations may include unusual patterns, geometric figures, animals or even faces. You might be afraid to discuss these symptoms with your doctors or friends and family for fear you'll be considered crazy. However, such hallucinations aren't a sign of mental illness. In fact, they're so common that there's a name for this phenomenon — Charles Bonnet syndrome.

Charles Bonnet syndrome (or CBS for short) is a term used to describe the situation when people with sight problems start to see things which they know aren't real. Sometimes called 'visual hallucinations', the things people see can take all kinds of forms from simple patterns of straight lines to detailed pictures of people or buildings.
A Swiss philosopher named Charles Bonnet first described this condition in 1760 when he noticed that his grandfather, who was almost blind, saw patterns, figures, birds and buildings which were not there. Although the condition was described almost 250 years ago, it is still largely unknown by ordinary doctors and nurses. This is partly because of a lack of knowledge about the syndrome and partly because people experiencing it don't talk about their problems from fear of being thought of as mentally ill.

Who is affected by Charles Bonnet syndrome?
Charles Bonnet syndrome affects people with serious sight loss and usually only people who have lost their sight later in life but can affect people of any age, usually appearing after a period of worsening sight. The visual hallucinations often stop within a year to eighteen months.

What causes Charles Bonnet syndrome?
At the moment little is known about how the brain stores the information it gets from the eyes and how we use this information to help us create the pictures we see. There is some research which shows that, when we see, the information from the eyes actually stops the brain from creating its own pictures. When people lose their sight, their brains are not receiving as many pictures as they used to, and sometimes, new fantasy pictures or old pictures stored in our brains are released and experienced as though they were seen. These experiences seem to happen when there is not much going on, for example when people are sitting alone, somewhere quiet which is familiar to them or when they are in lying in bed at night.

I always thought that seeing things was a sign of mental health problems?
Seeing things which aren't there can sometimes be frightening. Some people may worry that seeing things is a sign of mental health problems or of conditions such as Alzheimer’s. They may be worried about this so much that they don't tell their GPs, families or friends what is happening. It is important to realise that CBS is caused by failing eyesight and not any other health problems.

So if you happen to know anyone with macular degeneration, talk with them today. They just might be seeing "things" and think they are loosing their minds..Wouldn't it be a comfort to know that it is only temporary and they will be ok?

Do this today, they will thank you...




  1. Great post!
    My mother, who was going blind due to diabetes, also saw images of a little girl and boy. She called them her litte visitors. Wish she were around today for me to tell her she wasn't losing her mind.

  2. There is a great deal of peer review research now demonstrating macular degeneration to be a disease that can both be often prevented and/or managed nutritionally for many people.

    Below are a couple of study examples: The recent B vitamin study showing that those that supplement with B6, B12 and folic acid have a significant lower risk of getting macular degeneration is one of many studies proving macular degeneration to be a nutritionally responsive eye disease.

    Archives of Ophthalmology recently published a meta analysis on omega-3 fatty acid and fish intake and its effect on the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
    This study identified 274 abstracts, 3 prospective cohort, 3 case-control, and 3 cross-sectional studies.

    Using quantitative methods, a high dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids was associated with a 38% reduction in the risk of late AMD. Fish intake (2x per week) was associated with reduced risk of early and late AMD.

    More omega-3 and AMD specific studies need to be conducted to further investigate omega-3¹s effect on AMD.

    Ref: Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;126(6):826-833.

    Essential nutrients include lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 fatty acids, taurine, gingko biloba, lycopene, vitamin A, E, zinc, copper, selenium for example, that can help both prevent the onset of eye disease such as macular degeneration as well as help preserve vision for those with macular degeneration.

    For more information on nutrition and macular degeneration and related research studies, go to Natural Eye Care for Macular Degeneration

  3. This is so fascinating. I can't image how scary it must be to feel like you're going crazy and being too frightened to tell anyone. It must be a comfort to your grandma (and to you!) to have received this information. I've never heard of anything like this and I truly am fascinated by it. I can't get over some of the strange ways our brains and bodies cope with things. Wow.