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Letter to My Brother: Protect Your Eyes

Dearest Brother,

I know it bugs you when I tell you stuff related to Mom and Dad’s medical history especially when I repeat myself, but I can’t help it sometimes! I regret that when Dad had AMD, I didn’t know as much as I know now after three years of research and working with people who have it, therefore it’s now ‘my job.’ I love you and don’t want to see you suffer as Dad did.

Harry and Me

Tips from your ‘eye doctor’

I’m going to tell you these things once, I promise. I know I’ve told you some of this, but I don’t remember how much. Humor me and read it just this once! ::grin:: Pretend that it’s from your eye doctor!

Get an annual eye exam

You really need to get an eye exam every year if only because you’re of ‘that age.’ Every two years is just not enough especially because of our family history.

Pay attention to any changes in vision

If you ever have vision changes like a sudden increase in floaters or flashing lights or you have what looks like a curtain obstructing your vision or straight lines that look wavy or blind spots or blurry spots, call your eye doctor ASAP. Some of these things can be a sign of a type of AMD called wet. If it’s not caught and treated early, it can cause vision loss. The floaters and flashes may be something else. A curtain over the visual field may be a retinal detachment that needs immediate attention. We can talk more about those later.

Increased risk of AMD

  • Our risk of getting AMD is higher than people who don’t have a parent with it. I won’t quote %’s because there are too many conflicting numbers. You know I don’t ‘do numbers’ very well. ::grin:: Some research says the risk is double or triple. Dave’s mom had it, so he has a higher risk, too.
  • Even without the family history, age is a big factor; at 66 and 61, we’re in that ‘zone.’
  • Having blue eyes as you have and Dad had is a risk factor because blue light from the sun goes unfiltered to the back of the eye to the retina which can damage it. Having darker-colored eyes, even the hazel ones I have and Mom had, provide some filtering. You live in Florida on the beach so you are getting that sunlight every day – lucky you!! ::smile::

Protect your eyes

I know you have to be stylish, but please make sure that the lenses of your fashionable sunglasses filter 100% of the UVA/UVB rays and at least 80% of blue light. Forget the Ray-Bans. They are way too expensive plus the website doesn’t have ANY information about the light filtering lenses – that’s just crazy!

Diet and exercise

I know you are very healthy overall, and that’s great! You get more than enough exercise! Your diet seems to be good. Research shows that a low carb Mediterranean type diet reduces the risk of developing AMD. Diet is where I need to work harder on! Like Mom, sugar is a BIG problem. You and Dad didn’t seem to have the same ‘sweet tooth.’

I know more now

We both miss Mom and Dad very much. I wish I could go back and do more for them when Dad had AMD and Mom had Alzheimer’s (I hate to mention this but a family history of Alzheimer’s increases our risk for that, too). Believe it or not, I don’t spend all my time worrying about what may or may not happen. I’m working on taking better care of me because I now know more than I did then. I want us to be around for a long time! I want you to be able to clearly see your grandchildren…and then your great-grandchildren.

All my love, Your Sister

(This letter was adapted from an actual letter that I recently sent to my brother.)

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