Tricks of the Trade: Chapter 2

Written By: Jeanne Aufmuth - Mar• 30•17

March post pic

In a perfect world I’d be driving. Picking up at a moment’s notice and taking myself wherever I need to be. In a perfect world I could see my granddaughter’s sweet little face without having to squint.

But this world is not perfect, it’s just our world. And, as I am sight impaired, I have to craft a realm that works to support my deficiencies as well as my strengths.

The RP-minded brain is always in protection mode – I notice this most keenly as I walk the streets of New York. In NYC a red light is merely a suggestion; the masses are fleet of foot when it comes to crossing their busy streets. I myself have one ironclad rule; crossing a street – either red light or green – means putting another body between me and oncoming traffic. Way to throw someone else under the bus (I hope not literally!) but this is my mindset and it’s called survival.

IMG_3885It’s also just one of many survival tools we’ve all learned to utilize in order to cope with our vision. I’ve written about these before – tricks of the trade as it were – but they are essential to managing visual impairment in a sighted environment and worth revisiting. Here are a few of my favorites.

The handicap placard. Boy was this a hard sell. I have an absolute horror of people cheating the system to catch a break, and thus could not wrap my head around applying for handicap status. But a conversation with a wise RP friend turned me around – she not only uses the placard for parking (especially critical at night) but also to board a plane with those who need extra assistance. Canes can confuse people who label you as “blind” and don’t understand when you flip out your book or your iPhone. The handicap placard is a universal symbol saying something is wrong and none of your damn business.

The flashlight. I’ve written about this before but I can’t say enough about this handy little lifesaver. A tiny one in your bag for reading a menu in dark restaurants. Placed in the nightstand for those wee hour trips to the loo. Shining one into the closet to make out one pair of dark jeans from another. Darkened stairs would be impossible without a steady beam to make out their rigid contours. I would be well and truly lost without this perpetually handy helper.

ipad0The iPad. I have an edema that clouds my vision and, more specifically, wipes out my contrast and color perception. Words on paper are hard to make out and thus I read electronically. The Kindle app allows for white writing on a black background which not only aids in contrast but diminishes the blue light problems that plague virtually everyone who uses an electronic device. In addition to the reading I use my trusty Pad to draw, paint, check scores, text, send email and receive calls. I Face Time with my family and I take photos. My iPad is a second set of eyes; I’m grateful to be living with RP in an age where electronic support is readily available.

Sharpies. Color me crazy but I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. I will not admit to the number of unopened and freshly pointed packs in my desk drawer, but suffice it to say I could open a pop up shop on the fly. Other kids liked crayons, I did Sharpies. Lo and behold they’re still the perfect tool for our waning vision; among other tips I Sharpie my pants labels to distinguish navy from black. You can actually SEE something written in Sharpie – big, bold and bright in an array of magnificent colors. Sharpies are like an old friend who has stood by through thick and thin.

To all my RP brethren I say kudos to making it through each and every day with your own effective moves and relentless fast fixes. Please share some special tricks that may help someone else navigate this constant course!

 

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Who Are You REALLY?

Written By: ingridricks - Feb• 28•17

View More: http://heatherballisonphotography.pass.us/ingrid-2013

We all have those days where our eyesight struggles do us in. And I know from personal experience how easy it is to let the dark take over.

I’m not talking about lack of light. I’m referring to the dark emotions and energy that can consume us—those inner voices that tell us we are worthless, less than, weak and imperfect.

I was having one of those days when I met with an energy healer last week. And the perspective she gave me was powerful. She reminded me of the healing power of positive energy, and the destruction that comes from dark energy. She talked about the importance of meditation and daily gratitude, and about the need to connect with a higher energy source.

Then she talked about the stories we tell ourselves and said this: “Remember that there is perfection in imperfection. So stop judging yourself. And be careful not to view receivership as a form of weakness.”

Her words were so wise and on point that I’ve been reflecting on them ever since. And I’ve been conscious about my thoughts and about the stories I tell myself.

This is the real story of me and it has nothing to do with my eyesight.

I’m strong and passionate, and a big believer in going after dreams and turning them into reality. I’m a memoir author, ghostwriter and narrative writing coach who helps people find healing and empowerment by writing the deeply personal stories they need to tell.

I’m also a wife and partner to my amazing husband, John, a mother and friend to my two beautiful teenager daughters and a supportive friend to my circle of soul sisters. I love impromptu disco dance parties (think Abba), walks on the beach, soaking up sunshine, and a steaming cup of dark roast coffee. I also love traveling and exploring new countries.

We are NOT our eyesight. Our eyesight is just one aspect that makes us the beautiful, unique, perfect individuals we are.

I’ve told you who I am. Now I’d love to here from you. Who are you? What are your dreams? What do you want people to know about you?

Please share your thoughts in our Determined to See Facebook Group so we can all enjoy YOU.

 

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The Self-Care Campaign

Written By: Jeanne and Ingrid - Jan• 30•17

Funny image for blog post

Jeanne’s Take: If ever there was a time to get serious about yourself, it’s now. Not just about your sight, but in full support of your health – both mental and physical – and your inalienable rights as a healthy human being.

Ingrid and I have embarked on a personal mini campaign to remind each other each and every day just how well we are taking care of ourselves. What did I do to nurture my true self? It can be as simple as walking to work instead of driving, or lingering at the family dinner table rather than firing away at a looming deadline.

IMG_6362Years ago I clipped an article called “The New Aging”. A simple little exercise developed by healthy aging expert Walter M. Bortz MD. On the surface it seemed a trifle – assigning yourself points for achieving daily activities in the name of personal longevity. In short: one point for walking a mile (or swimming, biking, yoga, etc.). One point for reading a book, gardening, drawing, playing an instrument or otherwise getting in touch with your cultural self. One point for making love – or “putting your sensual self into action”. And two points for “pursuing the meaning of life”.

The objective is 5 points a day, 35 points a week. And the equivalents are boundless. An amusing pastime, but it’s not the points that truly count. The real emphasis is on your daily daring, and the fact that you’re seizing your moments rather than sliding through life.

I’m consistently surprised at the ease in which days can slip by without genuine focus on personal success in the name of self-care. And it’s time to make a change. Opt not to go to the crowded mall because it’s difficult to maneuver – a unique form of RP self-care. Watch humanity go by rather than texting. Open up to a friend instead of keeping things bottled up inside. There are myriad routes to the essence of self-care and – points or no points – there’s no time like the present to start treading that path.

 

image1Ingrid’s Take: The daily self-care campaign Jeanne and I have started between ourselves has been a Godsend for me. Every time I see her text come through with a small note about what she’s done to take care of herself for the day, it forces me to take a step back and do something kind for myself. And now that we’ve been doing it for a while, I’ve become more proactive about taking time out for me. As Jeanne noted, it’s the small things that matter: choosing to take a walk on a sunny day, soaking in the tub for an hour in the evening, enjoying tea and a conversation with my daughters, sharing a laugh with a friend.

Our self-care campaign has made me more conscious about living in the present, embracing the moments and making them count – especially in light of the dark cloud that has settled over the United States recently.

A little self-care can go a long way each day. It not only benefits ourselves, it helps those we love because when we are in a better space – it’s easier to pay it forward.

Hope you all will join us – and share your self care tips with us here on the blog and through the Determined to See Facebook Group.

Here’s to taking care of ourselves.

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Stress: The New Anti-Stress

Written By: Jeanne Aufmuth - Dec• 06•16

I’ve discovered something extraordinary over the past few weeks: that stress is actually good for me.

img_6047Don’t get me wrong – I am intimately involved with the concept of stress and one’s health, and there appear to be no upsides to how it treats our minds, our bodies and, for us in particular, our eyes.

Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

We all have our hot buttons –anything from fitness and financial concerns to family drama and maddening iOS updates.

bd6f7919-1dc3-4a66-870a-864e3b2ccf39It’s impossible to wipe stress completely off the agenda – life is life and with it comes baggage in all shapes and sizes. But who knew that chaos could be so cathartic?

This fall has been particularly hectic for me – a lot of travel and a lot of family events (a wedding, a new grandchild, a small remodel). With all the hubbub I’ve unconsciously put aside my relentless concerns for my waning sight; over whether or not I’m taking the correct supplements, over having to beg for rides, over how to navigate a crowded airport or a darkened theater.

Bottom line: I haven’t had time to worry about my eyes and, surprise surprise, the industrious and marginally manic me has been far happier NOT focused on the focus of eyes.

img_5947It’s not rocket science  – naturally one set of busy supplants another. But the reality is I’ve stopped agonizing over something I can’t control in favor of the things that I can. And I like it.

I’m not touting a stressful lifestyle, that would be unwise and unfair. But I am suggesting that taking a step back from the daily – perhaps hourly – worry over my condition has given me a clearer perspective, a renewed sense of purpose and an overdue attitude adjustment that’s reaping nothing but mental rewards.

 

 

 

 

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Giving Cannabis a Try

Written By: ingridricks - Sep• 23•16

cannabus-1

Yes. I’m dong it—both CBD, the non-get-you-high part of the plant, and THC, the feel good part of the plant. And I’m taking them in the name of both my eyesight and my life.

I’ve got Sandro Pretolani and Carrie-ann Sharpe-Musselman to thank for this because Sandro shared Carrie’s post in the Determined to See Facebook group a couple weeks back about how she’s been preserving her vision since turning to marijuana. That reminded me of a study that was done a couple of years ago in which CBD was found to preserve photoreceptor cells in lab rats). And it got me reaching out to other RPers who have turned to marijuana and swear by it for eyesight preservation. Carrie has even devoted a new Facebook Group to it and it contains lots of great information. If any of you are interested in joining. Here’s the link.

cannabas-2It also got me doing some research into both CBD and THC for triple negative breast cancer (TNBC)—a really unpleasant form of breast cancer that I was surprised with last Thanksgiving. And as it turns out, there are several western medical studies indicating that both have been shown to fight TNBC.

CBD acts as an inhibitor to metastasis of the cancer cells. And THC has been shown to actually shrink tumors. Yes…. more research is needed for both eyesight preservation and cancer—though given the control big pharma has, I’m not sure when that will ever happen. In the meantime, considering that I really want my eyesight and that my only other option re: the “c” word is to be doused with poison again should it reoccur in my body and hope that it does the trick – I’m all in.

I started with a high CBD product two and a half weeks ago: a 10 to 1 ratio consisting of 25 mg CBD and 2.5 mg of THC. Obviously this is going to be a long-term study for myself, but one benefit I’ve already discovered is that the nightly hot flashes I’ve been experiencing since chemo threw my body into sudden menopause disappeared three days after I started taking the capsules. I’m now incorporating a highly concentrated THC oil generically termed RSO (Rick Simson Oil) after Rick Simson, a guy who reversed his metastasized skin cancer using heavy does of the oil. I’m going for the maintenance mode — about a drop a night – and made sure to get a strain known for the relaxation it brings on. I figure it will  help with the occasional anxiety that creeps in. NOTE: for the THC, I’m using the maintenance dose recommended by Rick Simson. AS for CBD, I’m winging it.

Luckily I live in Seattle, where pot shops are now as common as coffee shops.

I’ll keep you all posted.

 

P.S. I’m also continuing to focus on my whole body health – mind, body and spirit. I eat a plant based diet (with a little salmon tossed in), work out daily, meditate, think positive and ENJOY LIFE.   I know it all goes together.

 

PS.

 

 

 

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Tripping ‘Round the World. Literally.

Written By: Jeanne Aufmuth - Jul• 05•16

iceland beachI have travel on the brain this summer. Most people do, as the summer months are an ideal time to step out of the daily routine and explore a great wide world that offers so much in the way of alternate vistas, unusual cultures and effortless relaxation.

But for my part travel is feeling more taxing than relaxing. As my peripheral vision narrows and my contrast dims, the planet’s glorious colors seem muted and relentless footprints are edged with fear not freedom.

Having just returned from two weeks in Sweden and Iceland I’m still basking in the glow of a truly unique adventure. Yet on this particular journey I took fresh note of the strain that a new environment puts on my eyes and consequently my psyche. Dark corners are perilous, every step is guesswork, and crowded airports are throbbing with tension rather than anticipation.

There’s a silver lining to the less sighted art of travel; improbable but true. Majestic rushing waterfalls are undeniably more profound to a traveler whose backup senses are intensified – where the pulsing pounding sound is equal to the thrill of the sight. I can sniff out a good fried fish shack at a hundred paces. And food even tastes brighter and more flavorful – lamb’s heart tartare anyone?

iceland signsThere were down days – there always are. I slammed into a cleaning cart in a mood-lit hallway, and tripped and slipped my way down a muddy, rain-soaked path at an ancient Icelandic hot springs. With each low I was reminded of a recent Facebook post from a wise RP friend. To wit – focus and thrive on what you CAN see and CAN do, knowing you may not always be able to do so. I strove to focus on my good fortune – the sheer physicality of travel, quality time with my beautiful family, and observing foreign customs through my own unique lens.

In conclusion? I won’t stop. None of us should stop. RP can rob of us our sight but we mustn’t let it dictate or obliterate our lifestyle nor the passions that are solely, inimitably us.

Let’s get out there and show the world just what were made of!

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Stretching for Life

Written By: Jeanne Aufmuth - May• 31•16

You’d have to be living under a rock to miss the connection between physical fitness and the health of your eyes. We’ve relentlessly sung the praises of acupuncture on these pages – and all of its marvelous benefits – but never neglecting the fact that good nutrition, a positive attitude and consistent physical health are part of the essential and magical combination.

I first read Bob Anderson’s Stretching (a mimeographed loose leaf copy) nearly forty years ago when some skier buddies of my boyfriend were getting in shape for a Canadian heli-skiing adventure. Fitness awareness was in its infancy and at the tender age of twenty-one I was intrigued by the notion of the positive long-term effects stretching could have on my youthful muscles.

Attachment-1The principles of stretching are as time honored as Chinese medicine and as far reaching as the cave man – to coin a phrase use it or lose it. Anderson was an athlete and outdoorsman who believed in maintaining full body strength via simple stretches that could be done as part of a regular home routine. He was a man before his time – before Jane Fonda urged us to “feel the burn” or Nike implored us to “Just Do It.”

I’ve always been the disciplined sort – punctual to a fault, highly organized – and something in Anderson’s visionary message spoke to me. Looking forward is not the basic tenet of a twenty-something but there was a glimmer of a fitter, future me and I started a daily regime of small body stretches. Anywhere from fifteen to fifty minutes a day, and the benefits were immediately evident. Everything I did was easier as I developed a lithe flexibility that saw me through sports injuries, lengthy car trips and the inherent hurdles my slowly aging body asked of me. Over time I added my own quirky movements from yoga and kick-boxing to tai chi. Headstands became a daily staple, but always with the core principle of stretching as support.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 9.07.44 PMI am sixty years old now and proud to say I haven’t missed a day of stretching in thirty- nine years. Not one day. I’ve stretched on days I’ve given birth and the days after. I’ve stretched on cold dirt floors in Africa and in a tent at 14,000 feet in the Andes. Sure there have been adjustment days (scaled back cheater stretches after knee surgery) but I always find a way. Stretching is like air and water to me – so much a part of my DNA that I literally couldn’t function without it. It has seen me through medical emergencies, sixteen-hour plane rides, grief and joy and loss.

But most importantly stretching has helped me through this challenging journey we call RP. As a wise woman once said, “If Option A isn’t available let’s kick the shit out of Option B!” Not only does the daily flexing contribute to that essential level of fitness, it’s an excellent relaxation tool and stress reliever. Stretching is for life.

Millions of copies and umpteen editions later Bob Anderson is still leading the stretching charge, with contemporary additions on computer stretching et al, and it’s still my bible. Even if you’re allergic to exercise there’s a simple stretch that will work for you – always available and perpetually worthy. It’s crucial to keep moving – for your body, for your eyes and for being the best you can possibly be!

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The Courage to Do What’s Right

Written By: ingridricks - Apr• 25•16

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 9.14.43 PM

Jeanne and I have come under attack for sharing Per Otte’s protocol—which has been available in the public domain for years—on this blog. We’ve also been criticized for spotlighting Eye Acupuncturist Mats Sexton and his desire to share his knowledge to help people around the world gain affordable, local access to treatment that could possibly save their eyesight.

Like many of you who follow this blog, Jeanne and I have benefited from specialized eye acupuncture and are grateful to all of the acupuncturists out there who have sought out training and specialized education to help those of us suffering from RP, MD and other devastating blinding eye diseases to hold onto our eyesight.

But the lengths to which a few acupuncturists have gone to block or greatly control the access other acupuncturists have to this treatment protocol is, in our view, unethical and unconscionable and goes completely against the holistic healing philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Here’s our response to those who are angry with us for sharing information and for our ongoing commitment to do everything we can to make this treatment affordable and accessible for anyone, anywhere in the world, who wants to give it a try.

  1. Mats Sexton did not disclose Per Otte’s acupuncture protocol. Per Otte disclosed his protocol in an abandoned patent application (click here to access) that has been in the public domain for years. This isn’t the first time that a blog has featured it. It was spotlighted on a blog post as far back as 2010. I’m disappointed with myself for not digging deeper sooner—especially given that my husband is a patent attorney. I get two or three emails a week from people all over the world who are desperate for local, affordable treatment options in hopes that they will continue to be able to see.
  2. We are NOT Money Trees. We are mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who are fighting hard to hold onto our eyesight so that we can watch our children grow up, see our spouses grow old, continue to support our families, do the work we love and maintain our independence. We are not independently wealthy and cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars every few months and take off four to six weeks from work each year for the rest of our lives to fly across the country or half way around the world in hopes of accessing a treatment that can help us save or maintain our eyesight.
  3. Affordable, widespread training is critical. This should be taught in every acupuncture school in the world. It’s simply not true that acupuncturists aren’t interested in learning this protocol and helping patients save their eyesight—despite the argument I’ve heard repeatedly for a couple of years now. Thanks to the increasing awareness about the possible benefits of acupuncture, numerous patients and skilled acupuncturists have been clamoring to access the needling points and necessary training and have been consistently shut down. We are thrilled that more skilled acupuncturists like Mats Sexton are stepping forward to share their knowledge with others—without concern about creating competition for themselves by helping millions of people around the world access a treatment that might benefit them.

Of all the criticisms and ridiculousness I’ve heard since THIS BLOG POST  appeared, this one I received Sunday from a long-time eye acupuncturist stands out: “Many people are so attached to their conditions that you could put a cure right in front of them and they’d refuse it. It’s not up to you to have every blind person treated with acupuncture.”

In the three years since starting this dedicated quest to save my eyesight, I’ve connected with thousands of people suffering from RP and other blinding eye diseases and every one of them is fighting hard to save, maintain and help their sight. To suggest that we are attached to our failing sight or that we would prefer to lose it is downright cruel and there is absolutely no place for that brand of negativity. The last thing Jeanne and I want is to mandate that every “blind” person be treated with acupuncture. We’re working to ensure that an affordable, accessible treatment option be made available to those who are doing everything in their power to rescue their sight and want to give acupuncture a try. We will continue this battle so that everyone struggling from a blinding eye disease has a way to hold onto his or her precious sight. And we invite like-minded acupuncturists and naturopaths to join our fight.
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One final thought: We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog promoting the merits of acupuncture. But that is only one component of traditional Chinese Medicine and naturopathy. Diet, exercise, lifestyle and emotional health are ALL key to maintaining our eyesight and overall good health.

As many of you know, I’ve spent the past few months undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer and am now teaming with a wonderful naturopath in Seattle to focus on building my immune system and nourishing my body – physical, mind and spirit. Over the next few months, this blog will focus on diet, lifestyle, nutrition, exercise and mental health—with an emphasis on personal empowerment and all we can be doing ourselves to promote our eye health and overall health. Jeanne and I invite any naturopath or acupuncturist interested in providing patient education in this area to do a guest post on this blog.

Here’s to our eye health—and to all of those practitioners out there whose first priority is their patients, not their pocketbooks.

 

 

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To the Finish Line – And BEYOND

Written By: Jeanne Aufmuth - Apr• 07•16

image1

“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King”. There are vast interpretations of this timeless proverb but my definition of choice applies to the struggles – and sporadic triumphs – of RP and its relentless peaks and valleys.

Our RP community has finally come to this new and promising place on much the same path. Mine – and most of yours – started with a desperate online search that led to Ingrid’s first blog post about the healing properties of acupuncture, something I had not considered as a viable treatment for my worsening condition.

Embarking on that journey was fraught with a heady mix of apprehension, hope and confusion that encompassed long distance travel, a multitude of expenses, and the frightening concept of bouts of potentially painful needling that would somehow benefit my eyes.

IMG_3169My initial two-week round of acupuncture yielded recognizable and encouraging results, and lent a positive outlook that loosened the grip of a deepening sense of depression. We’ve all been there at some point in this fight. My good results also inspired an idea: if sporadic micro-acupuncture was an effective remedy, why not an additional weekly “maintenance” treatment too? I approached Ingrid with a plan: stop the spendy eye-based treatments for six months and focus exclusively on a whole-body method once a week for twenty-four weeks.

Speaking for myself the results were impressive – the eyes working in conjunction with the whole body in order to support healthy sight. And the real upside was not just stronger eyes but combatting the core anxieties of failing sight – the incessant fear of falling, of feeling ostracized, the loss of independence and a future in the dark.

Post study I discovered what I find to be the correct balance of whole-body and micro-acupuncture treatments. Through trial and error each of us has to find our own individual rhythm and practice, as the results can be wildly diverse. It’s essential to take control of our own healthcare – treatment, nutrition and exercise — as there is no one magic formula. And naturally the personal side of the experience is an emotional and immensely visceral one.

Re acupuncture itself, the core values are simple: be consistent, surrender to the unknown, maintain a positive attitude and above all be honest with yourself.

Which all brings me to today. Ingrid’s and my consistent battle cry has been to make this therapy accessible and affordable to everyone suffering from RP. We fervently believe in not only what we’re doing but why we’re doing it – to define a superior approach for every RP patient to care for his or her eyes.

Attachment-1Through relentless pounding of that drum we discovered Mats Sexton, who not only fights the good fight on the acupuncture front, but feels the same ceaseless frustrations over decent treatment availability and affordability and the code of secrecy that has plagued our collective RP passage.

Now the protocol is available to all – to anyone and everyone who wants to take steps to help improve and maintain healthy sight.  (To access, click here) We have our naysayers – and to those I say Eastern medicine or Western – not everything works for everyone. But how will you know if you don’t try? And why wouldn’t you try everything in your power to preserve and improve your waning eyesight? That’s a no-brainer of epic magnitude.

Thanks to the support of so many – in particular fellow crusaders Ingrid Ricks and Mats Sexton – I’m taking action, doggedly resolved to make the most of my options and hitching my star to those with an equally unwavering vision. By taking control of my future I’m choosing to play one-eyed man and be King of my domain.

 Note: to check out more of Jeanne’s eye art, click here.

 

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Eye Acupuncturist Shares Vision Protocols, Seeks to Save Sight for All

Written By: Jeanne and Ingrid - Mar• 28•16
Mats at the top of the summit of Denali

Mats at the top of the summit of Denali

Editors’ Note: After a long fight to obtain affordable, accessible treatment for anyone wanting to give acupuncture a try, we are thrilled to have connected with Mats Sexton, LA.c,  a seasoned eye acupuncturist based in Minneapolis who shares our fervent belief that acupuncturists everywhere should have access to this vital information and training so they can provide local, affordable treatment for all eye patients.

We connected with Mats shortly after we made what to us was a shocking discovery: that the micro-acupuncture points so many of us have been begging eye acupuncturists to share are listed in detail in a long-abandoned patent application that is available to anyone in the public domain.

This, combined with Mats’ own vision protocol that he so generously offered to share with us all (below), is a great starting point for any interested acupuncturist. In addition to this, Mats is launching affordable, comprehensive live training for acupuncturists this summer at his Minneapolis clinic.

Here is Mats’ remarkable story (including the vision protocols). PLEASE read this post and share it with every acupuncturist and eye patient you know.

To our eyesight and beyond! – Ingrid and Jeanne

 

Eye Acupuncture Seeks to Save Sight for All

 

Celebrating Halloween with a young Stargardt patient

Celebrating Halloween with a young Stargardt patient

Acupuncturist Mats Sexton, L.Ac,  had been so focused on his Minneapolis-based practice, treating patients with degenerative eye diseases, that he didn’t truly appreciate the huge void in the market and the boiling-point frustrations over lack of affordable, accessible treatment options until he started receiving phone calls a few months ago.

The inquiries came from all over the country and were all the same: people suffering from RP and MD were desperate for realistic treatment options. More than anything, they wanted access to the vision protocol used by most eye acupuncturists so they could share the information with their local acupuncturist and get the real help they needed.

“They’d ask, ‘Can you help me with the points for my acupuncturist? No one will share the points.’ I had no idea of the level of frustration out there,” says Mats.

Mats, who built his own practice around a community acupuncture approach that enables him to charge as little as $40 per follow-up treatment, had a heart for the plight of these discouraged patients and was happy to share his protocols with their practitioners. But the importance of sharing knowledge and providing affordable, widespread training to treat degenerative eye diseases such as RP and MD didn’t fully hit him until his father was recently diagnosed with Wet MD.

“I had been managing his Dry MD for a few years and when it bled I thought, ‘How can I help him? He’s in Arizona for the winter and I’m in Minneapolis’,” says Mats. “It was so frustrating and I knew he needed someone local who could provide treatment. So I began researching acupuncturists and ended up calling Mary Papa, L.Ac., who practices only a couple of miles from my parents’ house. I explained the situation to her and asked if I could train her so she could help my dad. She agreed and I flew down to Phoenix to train her. Now my dad, and the rest of Mary’s clients, has access to the treatments.”

Mats isn’t new to the world of eye acupuncture. He first learned about the use of acupuncture to treat degenerative eye diseases in 1998, as a student at the Minnesota Institute of Acupuncture. He contacted Per Otte, who was using the micro-acupuncture protocol developed in Denmark in 1984 by Freddy Dahlgren, and asked if he could write a research paper on the topic. Otte declined, but as Sexton’s interest in acupuncture methods grew he began contacting Otte several times a year over the next few years until Otte finally agreed to train him in 2003.

Along with the micro-acupuncture training from Otte, Mats has traveled twice to Denmark to learn the AcuNova method developed by John Boel. He currently uses variations of both protocols, depending on the client, and combines several other techniques including Japanese Hara (abdominal) analysis and scalp acupuncture, and additional hand and body points.

Mats and his beloved dad, Bill.

Mats and his beloved dad, Bill.

“There are numerous so-called ‘micro-acupuncture’ systems that use hands, feet, ears, scalp, even the nose,” notes Mats. “When I found Freddy Dahlgren’s book of his acupuncture meridians and points, I began to adapt the protocol to make it unique for various ailments. It didn’t make any sense to me why it should be the same for everyone. Some people need more Kidney help or maybe Liver or Heart.”

Currently, Mats charges $800 for ten treatments over a five-day period for first-time patients, including before and after visual field scans and other eye tests, as well as an in-depth consultation to discuss overall health, nutrition and identify underlying issues that are contributing to the eye disease. After that initial week, he prefers seeing patients more frequently rather than every few months.

“I think it’s vital to have patients come for a pair of treatments about twice a month because these ‘eye’ diseases are really systemic diseases and we’ve got to work on the root causes,” he explains. “Unfortunately, the reality is that you can’t do ten or twenty treatments and magically make a chronic disease go away. This is why it’s so critical that we get as many practitioners trained as possible – so that interested patients can access quality, affordable local care on an ongoing basis.”

Adds Mats, “Clients also need to take responsibility for self-care and I spend ample time educating them on making good choices for their vision.”

Recognizing the urgency of the situation, Mats has decided to step into the role of trainer himself and has been completing a comprehensive accredited curriculum that he will launch this summer.

“My clinic is small and my treatments are highly personalized but this isn’t ideal when so many people need care,” he explains. “I never wanted to run an eye-factory like I witnessed during my training, and now I realize I need to teach the protocols I have created.”

Mats' clinic in Minneapolis

Mats’ clinic in Minneapolis

The two-day intensive weekend training workshop will be held in his Minneapolis clinic. Mats will spend the first day discussing the anatomy and physiology of the eye from both Western and Eastern medical perspectives, delving into the different types of eye diseases and disorders that can be treated, and how to test vision. The second day will focus on point location and needling with lots of hands-on training and practice so acupuncturists are confident with the protocol.

He estimates the two-day accredited continuing education course will be priced at about $1,000, the same as his coursework with John Boel in Denmark.

“I want to keep the price affordable for acupuncturists who want to attend and I think that’s a fair price for the workshop, especially with the inclusion of testing materials, which are expensive” he notes. “My plan is to limit the class size to twelve acupuncturists to ensure they get the one-on-one assistance they need.”

Along with his live training, Mats is sharing some of his key vision protocols here – which, along with the comprehensive micro-acupuncture points that are outlined in the public domain document – will provide acupuncturists who can’t attend his live training the baseline information they need to start helping people suffering from RP, MD and other degenerative eye diseases. From Mats’ perspective, sharing vision protocols with acupuncturists and people suffering from degenerative eye diseases isn’t only the obvious thing to do; it’s the right thing to do.

“In the Community Acupuncture movement, everyone shares protocols, intake forms, and ideas so that everyone benefits,” Mats observes. “I think about my dad and all the other people that need help; this has become painfully personal now. I believe that any skilled acupuncturist can learn and apply this information and I’m going to ensure that every one of us does!”

Vision Protocols

To download the detailed micro-acupuncture points for treatment of degenerative eye diseases as outlined in the public domain document [See Figures 8 & 9 for MD & RP treatments), Click Here

And here is the information that Mats Sexton has so generously offered to share with all of us.

 lsNeedles: I typically use DBC brand “Spring Ten” 34 gauge-DBC3; 1 inch (.20×15). Depending on the thickness of a client’s hands and/or feet (callouses) and their tolerance, you may need either thicker or thinner needles. I hand-insert the needles but you may use needle guide tubes. Just insert and do NOT twist or twirl to get DeQi!! This will be extremely painful for your client!!

Depth: Insert to the bone level.

I request, and may soon require, clients to visit their ophthalmologist within 2 months or less before starting acupuncture to get a solid baseline of visual acuity and eye health.

In clinic, test eyes before starting your acupuncture: Amsler Grid; Snellen standard eye chart (either hand held or 20′ distance); color vision testing plates; and contrast sensitivity are good, simple tests. Some of these items can be ordered at www.Bernell.com. Also note subjective details of a client’s vision for future reference/comparison when retesting.

Years ago I changed the protocol to 2 sessions per day with 30 minute needle retention. We were initially taught 3 sessions of 20 minutes each. I wait about an hour between sessions.

 Typical treatments for RP

Treatments 1, 3, 5, 7, 9: Micro Acu (see diagram on public link) or AcuNova, GB 14, Yin Tang, K10, K3, Sp 6, K1

Treatments 2, 4, 6, 8, 10: Micro Acu or AcuNova; GB 14, Yin Tang, LIV 8, ST 36, LIV 3, K1

 Typical treatments for MD/Stargardt’s

  • Treatments 1, 3, 5, 7, 9: Micro Acu or AcuNova; GB 14, Yin Tang, Liv 3, Sp 6, Scalp Visual Cortex a-shi GB 19 area.
  • Treatments 2, 4, 6, 8, 10: Micro Acu or AcuNova; GB 14, Yin Tang, K6, Sp 3.

Retest vision and compare results after ten sessions.

Repeat the sequence and retest after the next ten sessions.

Other points to consider: Occasionally I will add one or two other points based on differential diagnosis. Keep in mind that the main treatment already uses a lot of needles so choose wisely if you wish to add more. Treat other (non-vision) complaints in a separate session.

  •  For heat/redness/pain in the eyes I often add: Liver 2 and Stomach 44 (maybe Large Int. 4) with strong DeQi.
  • For dry eyes add GB 41.

What if the treatment doesn’t seem to be working? Usually some change is noted after the first ten treatments. If the client is not seeing results after 20 treatments, consider what else might be contributing to their condition. Medications, smoking, chronic disease, lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, sexual activity, household toxins, stress, emotions, etc. I HIGHLY recommend clients have a comprehensive blood chemistry panel at least annually. This can lead to answers and solutions. Sometimes the treatments alone don’t seem to work.

Know this: Chinese medicine has 5 branches: acupuncture, bodywork, exercise, nutrition and herbology. For the best chance at success, you must incorporate all of these! Just doing acupuncture is 1/5 of the treatment.

In my experience, I find often find that RP and Stargardt’s are more challenging and require more treatment than macular degeneration. This often has to do with their congenital nature and effect on Jing.

In my practice, I emphasize whole foods over supplement pills, with the exception of Chinese herbs, the ingredients of which are not readily available in most foods.

The AcuNova needling theory and protocols are too difficult to explain via this format but I will teach them live. Or, I highly suggest taking the class from John Boel in Denmark. www.acunova.dk

I will try to answer questions but, please, if you’re truly interested in learning this, sign up for the class. Also, please be patient when waiting for a reply to your questions…I’m only one person! Thanks.

Be Well,

Mats Sexton, L.Ac

For more information on Mats Sexton, L.Ac., his practice, his philosophy and his upcoming training workshops, please visit his website: www.pindoctor.com He can also be reached via email: mats@pindoctor.com

 

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