Beware of Miracle Cures for Macular Degeneration
“My aunt’s second cousin twice removed used the root of a tree that only grows in Africa, and it cured her AMD!”
AMD is a disease with no ‘good’ treatments or cures…yet. Naturally, people are looking for ways to help themselves. We are all susceptible to being convinced that a product or service is one of those ways. Some of them, however, are possibly not safe, let alone effective. I've heard a lot of claims over the years. I find many of them are cruel money-making schemes.
So what causes us to buy or buy into claims to try something that may not be safe and effective?
What are testimonials? They're basically anecdotes - personal stories - told by 'satisfied customers,' some of whom are represented by celebrities, that recommend a product or service. They're presented in articles, photos, commercials, often where the products and services are sold.
Fake cures for macular degeneration
I’m sure you’ve heard testimonials for everything from treatments to cures for AMD. Recently someone told me that through vitamins and a certain unproven treatment he reversed his AMD in a month! I hope you are skeptical…I certainly was.
When it comes to our vision, we need to seek out the scientific evidence behind anything we seriously consider buying and trying.
Unlike an anecdote, scientific evidence comes from rigorous use of the scientific method which identifies a problem, gathers data, forms a hypothesis, and then tests it. These steps are implemented in stages of clinical trials which are research studies using people. These stages build on each other by adding more participants at each stage. They also focus on different aspects of safety and effectiveness with safety being the first concern.
The placebo effect
You may be familiar with the term 'placebo effect.' You may have heard about 'sugar pills.' A placebo or sugar pill is something given to people in one group that looks like what's given to another group as a treatment. The placebo does nothing.
The placebo effect, then, happens when people are convinced that whatever was done to them or what they took worked! The mind is powerful. We can convince ourselves of almost anything.
The vividness effect
There are quite a few articles about the vividness effect, but I'll give you an example. Remember the testimonial at the beginning of this page: “My aunt’s second cousin twice removed used the root of a tree that only grows in Africa, and it cured her AMD!” You do your research and decide that the claim is not backed by evidence. Later, someone else says it cured them! The vividness of a testimonial is taken more seriously than the research that you did. You decide to try this root based on the testimonials rather than the research that you did.
There are many articles and videos to help marketing people make testimonials to sell their products and services through manipulation. One definition of manipulation is, “control or play upon by artful, unfair or insidious means, especially to one's own advantage.” I read that and then watched a video for marketing people on how to implement it. I was embarrassed and a little angry when I realized I'd fallen for this technique.
Macular degeneration claims
Here are some actual claims with testimonials available related to vision:
- "You can reverse your serious eye disease in three days."
- "See 2 Lines Better at Your Next Eye Exam - Groundbreaking Research Shows This Biblical Spice Can Dramatically Improve Vision—by Two Lines on the Standard Eye Chart!"
- "Early macular degeneration vision improved with [pick an 'alternative' treatment]... In just 9 days."
- I don't have a specific claim, but there are clinics in the US where so-called stem cells from adipose tissue (fat) are injected into the eye as a VERY expensive treatment for AMD and other eye diseases. After several women were blinded by this procedure, the FDA is cracking down on them.
Just the facts
You may have caught reruns of the old show Dragnet. In it, Detective Joe Friday often said, “All we want are the facts, ma’am.” Trivia: Most people think he said “Just the facts, ma’am” but he used the longer version.
Anyway, when you are considering trying something that is being promoted by a testimonial, stick to using just the facts. If it's something that is supposed to treat or cure your macular degeneration, ask:
- Is there scientific evidence to back the claim? Have clinical trials been done?
- Have you checked to make sure the product is safe, are there side effects, does it interact with any diseases you have or medications you take?
- Are you basing your decision on the testimonial alone?
- Are you being manipulated by the marketing?
Someday a Cure
I hope that someday I'll be able to join with others in sharing a new and better treatment for macular degeneration and better yet a cure! In the meantime, don't fall into the trap of testimonials.
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