Trusting Doctors

We’re taught from a young age to trust our doctors. And, why wouldn’t we? They’re highly trained to treat patients with specific ailments. They’re supposed to know what we don’t know and then relay that information to us to help us better understand our individual medical situations.

Trusting our doctors

Well, I generally try to follow this ‘trust your doctor’ rule. For the most part, I’ve been treated fairly by doctors and have gotten most of my questions answered by them. And when I haven’t, I’ve learned from those experiences as well.

For this reason, the learning and ‘disease education’ doesn’t stop when I walk out of the doctor’s office. I tend to use what the doctors say to guide me on my own path to learning as much as I can. This is how I feel in control of a disease that carries the potential to not only take away my central vision, but also my serenity.

Doing our research

After living with myopic macular degeneration for almost fourteen years now, I’ve done a lot of my own research about this disease - from all angles. And, to be quite honest, I’ve learned more about it from my own research and the online support communities I’m a part of than I have from my doctors.

You see, doctors are busy; especially retina specialists. Each time I go to one, their waiting room is packed full of people and things feel a tad rushed. Myopic macular degeneration - any disease, really - is complicated and requires much more time to discuss than the thirty minutes we get in that chair at the doctor’s office.

Things with this diagnosis aren’t just one thing or another; it isn’t black and white. Because of this, I try to look at taking care of my eyes holistically: Physically, emotionally, and nutritionally. I mean, what else is there to do with a disease that doesn’t have a cure?

A holistic approach

I recently had a conversation with a friend who, like me, has myopic macular degeneration. She mentioned that her retina specialist told her that nutrition didn’t have much to do with her vision or preventing the progression of this disease.

And, I completely disagree. Hearing this actually made me feel a tad frustrated if I’m being honest.

Nutrients

Keeping our eyes as healthy as possible can only benefit them. This means they need nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Cupric Oxide… The list goes on. There are two specific nutrients that our eyes need in order to filter out harmful blue light: lutein and zeaxanthin. These two nutrients are carotenoids which are not made naturally within our bodies, therefore, we have to ingest these nutrients either by food sources or vitamin supplements.

Zinc

Not only do we need to be mindful of what we should ingest for the health of our eyes, it’s equally important to know what not to include. Specifically, when it comes to zinc, we have to be careful. The extremely high level of zinc in the AREDS formula vitamins can be helpful for some, but harmful for others.

This is because about 15 percent of people who take the AREDS2 vitamin formula have what is referred to as zinc sensitivity. In that 15 percent of people, zinc actually harms our eyes instead of helping them. This isn’t something mentioned frequently in RS appointments, so it’s important to know it on our own.

Weight control

Besides all of that, eating healthier is a great way to keep our weight under control. This is important in regards to the health of our eyes. I once had a retina specialist tell me to ‘get as skinny as you can’. And, though I had no idea what he meant at the time, I did the research and I now better understand what he meant. Basically, the lighter we are, the less pressure there is pulling on the retinas in our eyes. This means fewer retinal tears.

Finding a balance

I believe that we can trust our doctors, but that we also have to be our own advocates. It’s important to trust our intuition and do everything we can in order to keep our eyes as healthy as possible. This is how we give them their best chance at seeing longer.

Andrea Junge

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