Getting Healthy to Help My Eyesight

Written By: ingridricks - Apr• 29•13
My daughter, Syd - my morning workout partner.

My daughter, Syd – my morning workout partner.

I felt powerless when I started my journey to heal my eyesight in early February. After yet another visit with a top retinal specialist who told me I had no control over the progression of my Retinitis Pigmentosa, I was convinced that my only hope for eyesight rested in the hands of Dr. Weidong Yu and the acupuncture and Chinese herbs he uses to treat Retinitis Pigmentosa.

Now, eleven weeks in, I’ve realized that the TCM treatment offered by Dr.Yu — which I view as the critical central element — is still only one important piece of the puzzle. It’s finally hit me that there is plenty I CAN and MUST DO on my own if I want to maintain and improve my eyesight. It all comes down to diet, lifestyle and fitness.

 It’s not that I haven’t heard this before. It’s just that I’m now finally listening to what I first heard from Dr. Damon Miller and am now hearing from Dr. Yu: that my eye disease is a symptom of bigger issues in my body. And that if I address my whole body health, I can help heal my eyesight.

When I first began exploring alternative treatments for Retinitis Pigmentosa five years ago, I started on the Better Eye Health program offered by Dr. Miller.  He’s a board-certified M.D. who added naturopathic medicine to his practice after watching patients become dependent on pharmaceutical drugs and seeing the adverse side affects. Dr. Miller’s eye health program is an intensive home treatment program that includes acupressure, eye exercises, color lamp therapy, micro-current stimulation and a variety of vitamins and mineral supplements.  He also focuses on stress reduction and digestive health.  But at the core of his practice is diet and nutrition.

 I started on the home treatment program but I didn’t do it consistently—especially the acupressure and eye exercises because it just felt like a lot of work. And as much as I told myself I wanted to be healthy, I didn’t want to give up my processed foods, coffee, wine and meat.  Aside from incorporating spinach into my diet, I didn’t even really boost my intake of vegetables.

juicingThough I had read that inflammation and poor circulation were significant drivers of RP, I didn’t understand that the foods I consumed daily actually caused inflammation and poor circulation.  Now, after my own research and hearing the same messages from Dr. Yu, I finally get it: if I want healthy eyes, I need to be healthy all the way around.

Since February, I’ve been adamant about daily green juicing, avoiding processed foods and sodas, and eating a plant-based diet. I’ve also been serious about doing my eye exercises and acupressure daily, and about drinking the Chinese herb tea prescribed by Dr. Yu, following by the relaxation and meditation he recommends. I continue to take the Lutein and Bilberry supplements I’ve been taking for years. Recently, I’ve also incorporated strength training into my exercise routine to increase my muscle mass and core body strength because Dr. Yu rightly pointed out that my overall body constitution and immune system is weak.  In addition, I’ve completed eight days of Dr. Yu’s intensive acupuncture and Chinese herbal treatment.

I don’t know what role each of these is playing individually. But I do know that I’m beginning to notice small but significant improvements in my eyesight. Areas in my mid-periphery (on both my left and right side) that were once blurry are now becoming clear. And I now have small patches of vision in my lower periphery where I once had none.  For example, I can see the tips of my feet when I walk and can see the tops of my knees when I’m walking up or down stairs.

My Life Before

  • Wake up at 6 a.m.
  • Breakfast: Two cups of coffee and two boiled eggs
  • Get daughters off to school
  • Morning Break: Double Shot Hemp Mocha at Coffee Shop
  • Lunch:  Grilled turkey/cheese sandwich, salt & vinegar potato chips, Diet Coke
  • Afternoon workout: half-hour cardio three or four times a week
  • Dinner (choose one):  Tacos – hamburgers – Pizza – Grilled Chicken – Tater Tots Smothered in cheese – throw in some steamed broccoli or a spinach salad and call it good.
  • Glass of Pinot Gris (average one a day)
  • Bedtime – 10:30 p.m.

*At least eight hours of screen time (reading, writing, texts, emails, and TV each day)

My Life Now:

  • Wake up at 5 a.m.
  • Half-hour Jillian Michaels workout (strength, cardio and abs circuit training to strengthen my body core).  My 14-year-old daughter, Syd, does it with me – I’m discovering a good support system is KEY.
  • Breakfast:
  • Large glass of filtered room-temperature water (I now avoid cold beverages all together based on Dr. Yu’s advice)
  • Large glass of fresh green juice: kale, celery, cucumber, green apple (sometimes spinach and broccoli stems as well)
  • Two boiled eggs
  • 7 a.m.  – Acupressure and Eye Exercise
  • 7:30 – Chinese Herb tea/meditatio
  • Daughters to schoo
  • Morning break – Double Short Hemp Mocha or peppermint te
  • Lunch:  veggie sandwich or salad with room-temperature wate
  • Afternoon Workout – half hour cardio three times a week
  • Dinner (choose one) ALL freshly made: Salmon & spinach salad–vegetarian tortilla soup–chunky vegetable soup–vegetarian quesadillas–stir-fried vegetables and brown rice–Greek salad
  • Evening: acupressure, eye exercises, Chinese herb Tea, meditatio
  • Bed Time: 10 p.m.
  • Glass of red wine (twice a week)

*Limit 4 -5 hours of screen time (reading, writing, texts, emails, and TV each day)

As a side note, I’ve finally gotten around to ordering my eye tests from my January 30th appointment with a retinal specialist. I’ll post those as soon as I receive them, and plan to use them as my baseline to compare with the eye tests I will do in early February 2014.

 

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12 Comments

  1. Ellen says:

    Great changes in your diet/lifestyle choices, Ingrid!!… try to also incorporate a simple time efficent YOGA practice into your busy new schedule along WITH your workouts!
    Best of luck on your continuing progress!
    Blessings,
    Ellen

    • ingridricks says:

      Ellen,

      I know — I was thinking the same thing. My one yoga class ended and I need to start another one. I may order a DVD and do it at home – just so I can squeeze it in.

  2. Alysa s. says:

    I love that hour daughter excises with you! It’s also so interesting to see the comparison of your old daily routine, versus your new one. Bravo for making the changes you needed to make! Continued luck and health, Alysa

    • ingridricks says:

      Thanks, Alysa. Yeah…having Syd join me in the workout is KEY. She’s a huge motivator for me.

  3. ana maria vidal v. says:

    Exelentes actividades fisicas,y cambios alimenticios, es muy interesante poder seguir tus progresos, eres muy buena motivacion para mi y para mucha gente con rp. mucha suerte y sigue inspirandonos a todos.
    bendiciones Any.

  4. Gayle Kielwein says:

    I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in 1986. The disease was stable for many years. However, since 2003 my eyes have gone through many changes and my annual doctor’s visit this past Friday confirmed that the disease is now progressing at a faster rate. Although the doctor was sympathetic in relaying the news, he did not offer any information or advice. I held it together until I got to the car and, I’m not proud to say, I was feeling very sorry for myself at that particular moment. After an initial meltdown in the parking lot in my car, I knew I had to face realty and prepare for the inedible blindness that is coming. But within a couple of hours my thought process changed and rather than succumbing to blindness, I aim to stall it for as long as possible. My plan of action is not scientific, but I had an epiphany that diet and exercise could make a difference. The last few years I have fell by the wayside with both of these and those are the years that my eyes made significant negative changes. Do they correlate? I don’t know. But regardless, I’m willing to believe that they do and proceed accordingly. I spent the weekend searching for information online and liked what I found on your website since it’s in line with my beliefs. I do have a couple of questions. 1) Why green juice and not green smoothies? I’ve been making green smoothies the last few weeks and I wonder what the difference is? Do you think I could continue with the smoothies or should I convert to a juicer? 2) How often do you receive the acupuncture treatment with Dr. Yu ? I would love to take advantage of this treatment, but I live in the US, have a job, and I’m sure insurance doesn’t cover the expense. I’m not sure if this is a realty for me if it’s an expensive treatment that requires weekly (or daily) visits. 3) You refer to acupressure also….what is that?

    Thanks for your information!

    • ingridricks says:

      Hi Gayle,

      Thanks for connecting. I’m sorry about your Drs. visit. Believe me – I know all about crying in my car. I’m absolutely convinced that diet and lifestyle play a key part in all of this — so very glad to here you are making green smoothies. I think they are just as good as juicing, juicing is just my preference. Re: acupuncture, check out Dr. Rosenfarb at http://www.acupuncturehealth.net He is in New Jersey and recently did a study with Johns Hopkins University that proved acupuncture is an affective treatment for RP. He accepts some health insurance and is working to make is treatment protocol available to local acupuncturists — which will help everyone. As far as acupressure and eye exercises go, they are critical to promoting good blood circulation. You can do a search on the internet for eye exercises and acupressure for the eyes and start there. Good luck – and hang in there. We CAN beat this. Best, Ingrid

    • ingridricks says:

      Gayle,

      Also check out this website: http://www.naturaleyecare.com/eye-disease-prevention/ It has free eye exercises, great green juicing recipes and other diet and lifestyle info for eye health. http://www.naturaleyecare.com/eye-disease-prevention/

      Best,
      Ingrid

      • Gayle Kielwein says:

        Thanks Ingrid. You don’t know how much this means to me…to be talking with someone, other than a doctor, who understands what I’m going through. I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t look into alternative beliefs earlier. And I can’t believe how rejuvenated I feel since my low point on Friday. Just you responding to me brought tears to my eyes 🙂 Between that and my new outlook, I have hope, if nothing else. I believe I’ve been in somewhat of a depression state for the last 10 years, just thinking about what the future holds and not enjoying the present. I can feel the difference in myself with this new found hope; and I believe others do too. I’d like to private message you for further correspondence if okay. I believe I can do that on one of your pages…correct? I’m definetely looking into the above information. Thanks again so much!

        Gayle

        • ingridricks says:

          I’m so glad I can hep in some way. i absolutely know what it’s like to feel like there is no hope. But there is – so hang in there and remember: diet, lifestyle are KEY.

  5. Kim says:

    Hello,
    I recently had genetic testing tell me that I carry a genetic mutation for cone dystrophy. This runs in my family, but I was surprised by the news as I have no symptoms yet. I’m 25. I so badly want to prevent or slow deterioration to my eyes! Do you have any advice about what some of my next steps should be? Thanks so much! Kindest regards.

    • ingridricks says:

      Kim – for me, a holistic health approach that combines diet, lifestyle, exercise, acupuncture, stress reduction and emotional health has definitely been helping to slow the progression of my RP – and has even provided some improvements. I would advise two things: 1) joining our Determined to See facebook page — just search for it and ask to join (great info and discussion there) and two – start reading some books on eye health. I really like this one by Dr. Damon Miller.http://www.amazon.com/Stem-Cells-Heal-Your-Eyes-ebook/dp/B00J0P0R8G

      What I’ve learned is that there is plenty we can do ourselves to help our eyesight. I wish I had started on the holistic health path when I was first diagnosed. I think I would have prevented a lot of degeneration. Hope this helps – Ingrid

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