Today I am blogging to raise awareness of Macular Degeneration and proper eye health.
This is a guest post from Mina Fies. She’s my best best friend for over 35 years and Macular Degeneration has affected her life first-hand.
Here’s her story.
When I started seeing small dark spots I thought it was the beginning of the end for my sight. I’ve always worried about my eyes. I constantly look for changes in my vision and get exams like clockwork. What’s strange is that I’m not a worrier. I’m pretty good at taking what life dishes out and rolling with it. But when it comes to my sight, all bets are off. I have reason to worry.
My grandmother raised me. All we had was each other and we were thick as thieves. Her favorite thing to do was garden. She’d spend hours and hours in the hot sun tending to her beautiful flowers. As a teenager I would mumble and grumble when spring would arrive because it meant I had to get her bag after bag after bag of hardwood shredded mulch. Those bags were heavy!When she wasn’t tending to her garden you could find her sitting in her favorite chair, knitting her latest quilt. Everyone in the family had a quilt from Grandma. Whenever there was a new great grandchild on the way, she’d get busy making her special gift. Her other interests included baking up delicious treats, reading the latest mystery novel, and watching TV.
In her mid-80’s she started seeing spots in her vision. Shortly after she was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration. In true Grandma fashion she wouldn’t let on how much it affected her. But I know it was devastating. At a time in her life where all she had were her favorite things she was unable to do any the things she loved to do. The hardest part of Macular Degeneration for me was watching the decline in her independence. She was a fiercely independent woman. She was never one to ask her help. She lived alone up until her diagnosis and was proud that she was able to take care of herself. Having to rely on others and not being able to do the things she loved was a double blow. I can’t tell you how many times she’d ask me to take her back to the eye doctor, hoping there was another set of eyeglasses that would help bring things back into focus. We both left those appointments defeated and disappointed.
Eventually Grandma came to terms with her disease, as did I. We made the most of her later years, and she always kept a sense of humor about her no matter what the circumstances. I am forever grateful to have had such an incredibly loving and sensitive woman to raise me and guide me in my life.
As the clock continues to turn on my own life, I often fear the same fate awaits me. I wonder if I will wake up one day to the realization that I may lose my vision and live out my later years suffering the same way Grandma did.
Thankfully, the dark spots I saw that day were nothing to be concerned about and eventually went away. They were not early signs of Macular Degeneration and I have extremely healthy eyes. I am vigilant about my eyes these days. I wear protective sunglasses whenever I’m out in the sun, I eat salmon and leafy greens like they’re medicine, I exercise and take antioxidant supplements. I also stay educated on how to prevent MD. I do this in part for myself and in part in honor of Granny. She would expect nothing less.
Mina Fies is a speaker, writer, business owner, loving friend and wife. You can learn more about her here.
To learn more about MD, visit the American Macular Degeneration Foundation. Macular degeneration is an incurable eye disease and the leading cause of vision loss for those aged 55 and older in the United States. It affects more than 10 million Americans. Age-related macular degeneration is damage to or breakdown of the central part of the retina, called the macula. The macula allows us to see clearly and can result in the complete loss of central vision.
3 ways to keep your eyes healthy
Go for color! Darker is better when it comes to your eyes. When you can, choose blueberries, orange peppers, pomegranates, beets, cranberries and purple grapes.
Think leafy and dark green. Spinach and collard greens are possibly the most beneficial vegetables for eye health. They are rich in carotenoids, the yellowish pigments that include precursors of Vitamin A, which may delay the onset and progression of age-related macular degeneration.
Don’t skip the yolk. The dark yellow egg yolk is packed with nutrients you need to protect your eyes: protein, vitamins, and minerals and those powerhouse carotenoids for eye health lutein and zeaxanthin.
The recipe below is included in the cookbook, Eat Right For Your Sight. This cookbook contains simple and delicious recipes using basic ingredients that you very likely have in your kitchen right now.
Recipe from Eat Right For Your Sight: Simple Tasty Recipes That Help Reduce the Risk of Vision Loss from Macular Degeneration, By Jennifer Trainer Thompson and Johanna M. Seddon, copyright © American Macular Degeneration Foundation, 2014. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Cranberry Salad
A good source of carotenoids, vitamins A, B6, C, and folate, butternut squash is also rich in phytochemicals, which convert into antioxidants, thought not only to help prevent macular degeneration, but also to reduce the risk for certain cancers and cardiovascular problems. This is a pretty salad that offers a colorful change of pace with its roasted squash, goat cheese, pecans, and cranberries.
- 1 small butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch chunks (about 2 cups)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar
- 1¼ teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- One 5-ounce bag baby greens
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup pecan halves lightly chopped
- ¼ cup crumbled goat
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon freshly snipped chives
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, toss the butternut squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the agave nectar, and 1 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake until tender and golden, 20 to 25 minutes, tossing after 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Assemble the baby greens, cranberries, pecans, and goat cheese in a salad bowl. Top with the butternut squash. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, vinegar, mustard, chives, ¼ teaspoon salt, and extra pepper into a vinaigrette and toss with the salad. Serve immediately.