A Sanguine Mindset: Hopeful About Our Future with AMD
I'm a very positive guy! You could say I’m a sanguine man... what does that even mean?
Sanguine definition (I had to look it up): optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation.
Reasons for hope
Sanguine is the state I am in, is it well-founded or folly? Let's delve into this and see if we can find out. The mere name of our disease, macular degeneration, is horrible. It's almost like they’re saying my eyes are dying before I am? Degeneration definition in medicine: deterioration and loss of function in the cells of a tissue or organ.
Stem cell therapy
This brings to my mind the question, does stem cell therapy hold the promise for possibly reversing the degeneration of our maculae? Gene therapy won't be able to repair any damage, stem cell therapy will hopefully be able to do that. Promising stem cell trials are currently ongoing. I, for one, sure hope stem cell therapy proves successful. Gee! Maybe being sanguine about this isn't folly?
Why do we get AMD in the first place? Scientists believe many factors can influence the development, severity, type, and rate of progression of AMD. Genetics, diet, age, and environment may all play a role. It appears genetics is a major factor in the development of AMD. This is where gene therapy can possibly play a role. (Don’t confuse gene therapy and stem cell therapy, they are two different potential cures, if you will.)
Researchers studying age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Stargardt disease hope to soon be able to replace genes that predispose an individual to these two types of retinal diseases with healthy genes. Gee! Maybe being sanguine about this isn't folly either?
Now let's talk about drugs! Here's a real mind-blower: In Western modern medicine, around 25% of all drugs are derived from rainforest plants. That's an impressive statistic, especially considering that less than 5% of Amazon plant species have been studied for their potential medicinal benefits!1
Specifically anti-VEGF drugs like Avastin, Lucentis, Eylea, and the new one, Beovu.
I was diagnosed 8 years ago with wet AMD in one eye and dry AMD in the other. I have had over 60 injections in the last 8 years and have been injected with all 4 of the above mentioned anti-VEGF drugs. (I'm still driving, reading and watching TV, so to put it mildly, I am very grateful for these drugs!) Recently, my RS changed the anti-VEGF drug I had been on for years to Beovu. Beovu improved my wet AMD eye from 20/50 to 20/30 after just 2 injections! I am beyond excited about this, is it too good to be true? I hope not, I only know it certainly is promising! Being sanguine about this isn't folly either.
While I'm waiting for the magic to happen, what can I do now?
Well, thanks to doctors, scientists, websites (like this one), and patients who have already traveled this path, we know certain things. What are these things? They are things we can do now, to keep the vision we currently have for as long as possible. Below I will recap some of the main tools and steps we can take to keep what we’ve got.
Tools we can use
What are some important steps I can take to maintain the vision I have?
- Maintaining regular visits with my eye doc
- Diet – Mediterranean diet is a good one to emulate
- AREDS2 vitamins/minerals
- Exercise – striving for a normal BMI (for me, losing weight is 80% diet and 20% exercise)
- Sleep – (my Fitbit wristwatch tracks awake, light, deep and REM stages and minutes in each state, so I can grade myself on how I'm doing with sleep)
The importance of having hope
For me, it's important to have hope, hope that through science and medicine, a cure might come about. I'm going to try and stay sanguine-optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation. And I hope you do too! I'm wishing you well on your health journey.
Are you aware of assistive technology for AMD?