Eye WILL Continue to See

Written By: ingridricks - Dec• 22•14


I received this early Christmas gift from my new friend Jeanne Aufmuth, a San Francisco film critic who also happens to be stuck with RP.

It’s already become one of my favorite possessions because every time I look at it, I’m reminded of my determination to see.

My pillow—called Snake Eye–is one of a series of unique Eye Will pillows designed by Jeanne as part of an RP fundraising effort. They sold out quickly but I’m hoping she’ll create more of them so the EYE Will message will make it’s way into homes across the globe.

Jeanne’s efforts to raise awareness and funding while doing everything in her power to save her eyesight has inspired to do more to raise awareness about the eyesight-saving benefits of specialized acupuncture and other integrated health approaches. I plan to start a movement in the acupuncture/naturopathic community that will lead to more trained practitioners and, in turn, make treatment more accessible and affordable for all of us.

That’s my Focus for 2015. Hope you’ll all join me.



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My Holiday RP Strategy

Written By: ingridricks - Dec• 09•14

greenjuiceI’ve been trying to find the energy to post about micro-current stimulation and fulvic acid for the past few days. But between Christmas tree hunting, holiday shopping, having fun with my family and …well…parties, it’s been pushed to the back of my mind.

What I know for sure at this point is that there is no quick fix to saving our eyesight. It’s a continuous journey with a constant focus on diet, lifestyle, emotional health, physical exercise, eye exercises, plenty of vitamins and minerals, and ongoing stimulation through alternative therapies such as micro-current stimulation and specialized acupuncture.

microstimFor this holiday season, I’m choosing to make emotional health and FUN my biggest priorities (while still trying to maintain some semblance of my eye health plan). So here’s my strategy for the next few weeks:

  • Green juicing every day
  • Daily morning eye exercises
  • A healthy, vegetable-filled lunch
  • Ongoing vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Regular cardio workouts
  • Twice daily microcurrent stimulation (that’s a pic of my microstim unit, which I purchased through www.bettereyehealth.com)

1C5277066-tdy-121221-holiday-wine-tz.blocks_desktop_largeAnd as much fun as I can manage –including occasional glasses of wine, coffee with Baileys, all my favorite foods and desserts, and lots of holiday music blaring from Pandora.

I’ll be back in January with more informative posts, including an interview with Dr. Marc Grossman, an optometrist-turned-natural eye health practitioner who is at the forefront at integrated, holistic eye health.

Until then — wishing all of you an amazing holiday season.

P.S. If you haven’t already joined and are interested, I’ve started a Determined to See Facebook group that features ongoing, interactive discussions on integrated eye health. To join, click here.



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Acupuncture Treatment Round 4

Written By: ingridricks - Nov• 22•14

family venice

I just wrapped up a week of treatment with Dr. Andy Rosenfarb, my fourth round since I started his acupuncture treatment a year ago.

What was most remarkable about this week is how it started. In the past, I’ve come every three- to three-and-a-half months and have always experienced a slide in my vision between treatments. This time, I stretched it out five months between visits and for the first time, I maintained ALL of the progress I’ve made during previous visits without any sort of setback.

I’m sure diet, lifestyle, eye exercises and positive attitude all play a part in this. But in addition, I’ve upped my use of the MicroStim unit (micro-current stimulation) to two times a day and have started taking folic acid thanks to my dad, who sells his own brand of vitamins and minerals and has been telling me repeatedly that I NEED fulvic acid and other minerals in my diet. I’m not sure if these two things were the tipping factors maintenance wise, but since something’s working, I’m going to keep at it (I’ll do posts on both micro-current stimulation and folic acid/minerals over the next couple of weeks.)

My end-of-treatment test results pretty much mirrored my starting tests. I feel like I’m entering a maintenance phase with my eyesight—which I’m completely fine with if I can continue to hold onto the gains I’ve made and maintain my remaining vision from here on out. And I’m hopeful that if I keep doing everything I’m doing, I will.

Before I log off, I want to give a shout out to all of the amazing people I’ve met throughout my Determined to See quest, people I now feel fortunate to call my friends. It was wonderful to reconnect with a few of you this week, and to finally talk face to face with those of you I’ve only known through email or social media

Knowing that so many of us are fighting this fight together is empowering.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving next week. Here’s to our health, our family, our friends, and living fully in the Now.

P.S. I posted the picture of my family because I wanted you all to meet them…and because they are the biggest reason I am DETERMINED TO SEE.



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Acupressure and Eye Exercises

Written By: ingridricks - Nov• 15•14

I had the opportunity to share my eye health journey with a group of senior citizens at a local senior center this week and it reminded me just how much we can personally do to maintain our eyesight. I know I’ve said it lots of times on this blog — but it really does come down to an whole-body health approach that integrates diet, lifestyle, emotional health, eye exercises, acupressure and acupuncture.

I’ve become a big believer in my daily acupressure/eye exercise routine because I know it increases blood flow and circulation to my eyes–which supports the delivery of oxygen and essential nutrients that cells needs to survive. These exercises also help keep eye muscles strong.

Above is a short video I made last year of the base acupressure/eye exercise routine I use.  I also HIGHLY recommend clicking on this Natural Eye Care YouTube channel for Dr. Marc Grossman. He’s an ophthalmologist who specializes in preventive/natural eye health care and has posted several great eye exercise videos. (And he knows A LOT more than I do.). He has a Figure Eight I now incorporate daily and love it.



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A San Diego Acupuncturist You Should Meet: Gail Brent

Written By: ingridricks - Oct• 30•14

FullSizeRenderI’ve heard so many great things recently about Gail Brent, a San Diego-based acupuncturist who treats RP and other degenerative eye disorders, that I knew needed to learn more. Last week I reached out to her for an interview and instantly connected with her. She’s warm and genuine, and comes highly recommended by fellow eye acupuncturist Andy Rosenfarb and the RP patients who see her.

IR: How long have you been treating degenerative eye conditions?

Gail Brent: Since 2003.

IR What interested you in this particular field?

Gail Brent: When I was four, I had eye surgery on one of my eyes because it was crossed. It was a very traumatic experience. Today, that same surgery wouldn’t even require an overnight stay. But back then, I had to spend ten days in the hospital with both eyes bandaged. It was so traumatic for me that for years, I had nightmares that I would wake up and not able to see. It stuck with me throughout my life. So when I read a magazine article on Dr. Per Otte that focused on the micro-acupuncture procedures he had developed to treat blinding eye disorders, I thought, “I have to learn this.” I was already an acupuncturist so I understood the tremendous healing power of acupuncture. I called his office and asked if he would be teaching a seminar anytime soon. The woman at the desk said yes, to give her my name and number. I did and never heard from her. But I was determined and every few months, I called again and repeated my request. I did this for three and a half years. The last time I called, the woman said, ”Let me have him call you.” And he did. He told me he had two others who wanted to train with him and he offered to let me join. It turns out that one of the others being trained was Andy Rosenfarb, who I knew from acupuncture school.

 IRCan you tell me about your RP treatment protocol?

 Gail Brent: I use micro-acupuncture and electrostim, a micro-current stimulation unit that patients can also purchase and continue to use at home.  I also incorporate energy work and do a lot with nutrition and supplements and Chinese herbal formulas. In addition, I’ve added some points to treat the constitution of the person. We know something’s going on with the eyes, but I also look at what else is going with the person that needs balancing. When it comes to RP, the most common issues I see deal with the kidney and liver. I also see a lot of emotional stress with RP patients. Stress plays such a huge part in eye disease—it affects the liver, and the liver affects eyes, so I have to work with all parts of that.

IR: How long are your treatment sessions?

Gail Brent: I usually offer them in one or two-week series. I treat three times a day, Monday to Friday, with a total of fifteen treatments each week. Each treatment is about thirty minutes in length . I also do energy work with each patient. I spend a lot of time with my patients because I want to get to know them to see what else might be gong on with them.

IR: How often do your RP patients return for treatment?

Gail Brent: For RP, I would definitely say it’s best to come two weeks for the first visit because RP patients really need the kick-start. Then I advise that they come for a week every three or four months for at least a year, and then we can see how it goes from there.

IR: What’s your success rate treating RP patients?

Gail Brent: I’ve never thought of it that way, but I would say about eighty percent of the RP patients I treat respond to the treatment. But the amount of improvement varies with each person, just like any other kind of treatment. Diet, nutrition, exercise, and the emotional state the person is in all plays into it, and then it depends on if their body responds to treatment. What I tell people with RP and Ushers is that, because there is nothing Western Medicine can do right now, they should at least give it a try. The wonderful thing about this treatment is that there are no negative side effects, no way it makes their condition worse. Either their vision improves, stabilizes or the treatment doesn’t work. You never know until you try and I’ve seen wonderful miracles happen.

IR: Tell me about the energy work you do.

Gail Brent: It’s called The Reconnection. Dr. Eric Pearl is the one who developed this particular form though I’ve been interested in energy work since I was little. About two years ago, something inside me said to incorporate this into my treatment, so now I do it on every patient. I don’t know how it’s directly affecting their eyes, but I see it helping their emotional state, which is so important to their overall eye health.

IR: How much does your treatment cost?

Gail Brent: I charge $1,200 for one week and $2,400 for two weeks. I keep it as affordable as I can because I know people struggle just to get here. I recently had a patient who came all the way from South Africa. I would love it if someone down there started treating degenerative eye disorders to make it more accessible. More trained acupuncturists need to enter this field and help people dealing with degenerative eye diseases.


For more information on Gail Brent, please visit her website: www.healthandvision.com.  If you’d like to talk with her or learn more about her treatment. call (619) 276-3661 or email her at gbrentlac@aol.com


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Quinoa Chop Chop Salad from Claire’s Kitchen

Written By: ingridricks - Oct• 26•14


My friend, Claire Thornburgh, is a fabulous cook who is living proof that life can still be enjoyed incorporating an anti-inflammatory diet. She’s generously agreed to share some of her favorite recipes with all of us on a regularly basis– starting with her Quinoa Chop Chop Salad.

This is a favorite in or household—lots of texture from quinoa, wild rice and all the crunchy vegetables, plus lots of flavor from the herbs (don’t skimp on these!), and the vinaigrette. We like to serve it with some avocado slices, some nuts and whatever extra protein we have on hand. We buy everything organic. I also cook a much larger amount of the legume/seed base and freeze portions to save time later. Notice that I don’t add peppers or tomatoes, because of their inflammatory properties, but I’m no expert on the best ingredients, health-wise.

All ingredients are optional and proportions completely changeable. Leave out, substitute, season to your taste. The base of the quinoa, lentils and wild rice is where we start, but you could easily put in chick peas, or another legume, leave out the expensive wild rice, put another “seed/grain” of your choosing. If you love raw onions or scallions chop some in, or you’ve got a crop of fennel you need to use up—in it goes. I try to add vegetables or fruits that won’t discolor too much since we munch on this for several days. My chopped vegetables generally exceed in bulk the amount of the cooked legumes and seeds, which I’ll call “grains” for simplicity.

I love the flavor of the “italian” version with olives, zucchini, basil, oregano and garlic (along with the basic ingredients that I always put in: celery, kale, parsley, chives). I sprinkle pine nuts on it before serving. A quinoa tabouleh is pretty common these days, with mint and cucumber. I once added some Vegenaise mixed with curry powder in a version with grapes. That was good. I’m planning to try a “Thai” version with cilantro, basil, cucumbers and chopped peanuts. The vinaigrette will need some white kind of vinegar, fish sauce and lime instead of lemon.

This recipe is a sample to get you started.
Quinoa Chop Chop Salad


1 cup quinoa
! cup lentils—I prefer the french green or the “caviar” for being little
and less mushy
1/4 cup wild rice
1/2 cup chopped broccoli stems (These keep better than broccoli flowers in the salad and add a nice crunch. Remove fibrous peel. We use the flowers in stir-fry or juice.)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped kale, collard or other greens (I like the greens chopped pretty fine. About 1/2 inch)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, and/or tarragon, and/or basil, and/or oregano and/or 1/4 cup mint
1 cup halved kalamata olives, or 1 cup halved red grapes
2 zucchini, (quarter lengthwise, toss with avocado oil or olive oil and roast under the broiler for a few minutes until they just begin to brown), cut into 1/2” slices
2 cloves garlic—I prefer mine lightly cooked, so peel them and throw in with the cooking lentils for a few minutes, then chop


1/2 cup avocado oil or olive oil
juice of two lemons
1 tablespoon good mustard (dijon, or, my favorite, with tarragon, available at some markets)
1 tablespoon honey, a bit of stevia or other natural sweetener (again, optional)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar.
Salt and pepper

Optional ingredients to add before serving:

pine nuts
pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds
feta, parmesan, mozzarella or other cheese
cooked meat

Since you’ll want the “grains” cold, cooking them is easy, like pasta—no measuring, just put each in a pan with plenty of water and simmer on med/low heat, stirring occasionally. Note, however, that dry food like this sometimes is not perfectly sorted before going to market. I have had the occasional gritty bit. So rinsing and sorting is usually recommended. Eliminate this step at your own risk—I at least do a cursory visual sorting as I add the ingredient to the water.

The wild rice is hard to overcook—it’ll take over 30 minutes to get done enough. When the white insides start to show, I let it cook about 15 more minutes.

Cold lentils, on the other hand, taste best if they’re just cooked enough, and they don’t take as long as you’d think—as little as 15 minutes depending on the size. Keep tasting until they are tender enough—not crunchy, but not mushy. If I overcook the lentils, they go into the next batch of soup, not in salad.

The quinoa is also quick to cook. To save on pans, I cook the wild rice in a larger pan with extra water. When the white begins to show I add the quinoa. In 12-15 minutes they both are ready. The quinoa has little white “tails” that separate when it is nearly done.

Cooking the base ingredients is all about tasting (and not boiling over).

Drain the “grain” in a sieve and run cold water over it until it isn’t hot anymore. Drain well.

Place the vinaigrette ingredients in a large bowl and mix.
Add the “grains” and all the other ingredients and mix thoroughly.

If there is not enough dressing for your taste, just mix a little more and stir it in. If you are experimenting with new flavors, just put in a little at a time. Keep tasting.

Serve heaped on an avocado half, or as a side dish to a more traditional meal. Sprinkle with nuts or cheese, a swirl of balsamic glaze or more herbs. Throw on some chunks of tofu or chicken or smoked salmon. If you had the salad for lunch yesterday and want a different flavor, mix up a little mayo, sour cream or Vegenaise with a bit of curry and stir it in your portion today. Let your taste buds and dietary needs guide you.

Keep tightly covered in the refrigerator. Stir to distribute dressing before serving.



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Ask the Expert – Acupuncture & Retinitis Pigmentosa

Written By: ingridricks - Oct• 21•14

new andy picI’m starting a new Ask the Expert feature on this blog where practitioners who use naturopathy, acupuncture and other integrated health therapies to treat RP will answer your questions. My first Guest Expert is Dr. Andy Rosenfarb, who specializes in treating RP and other degenerative eye conditions with acupuncture and naturopathy.

Question: If people suffering from RP start acupuncture treatment and then decide to stop, will their vision loss accelerate faster than usual?

Dr. Rosenfarb: The answer is absolutely not. I’ve seen many cases where a patient’s vision loss seems to arrest with acupuncture treatment and holds steady with ongoing maintenance treatment. Some patients start acupuncture and discontinue for various reasons. In those cases, it is most likely that at some point, some of the visual gains they made will be lost and  their eyesight will continue to deteriorate as it did before they started acupuncture.  Once a patient stops treatment, they are no longer doing maintenance work. It’s kind of like just deciding to stop brushing your teeth and quit seeing your dentist. Eventually, tooth decay will set in.

Acupuncture increases blood flow to the retina, which in turn increases oxygen, ensures vital nutrients reach the eyes, and helps promote detoxification of ocular waste products. Retinal cells will eventually die with impaired blood flow, inflammation, acidosis, and toxic accumulation. For that reason, at this time, ongoing acupuncture maintenance is required in order to preserve vision. It would be great if it was a one-time fix, but that’s never the case with these chronic, neuro-degenerative conditions. 

 Andy Rosenfarb, ND L.Ac, has been specializing in Chinese Medical Opthalmology since 1993. His unique AcuVision system combines various acupuncture methods including Micro Acupuncture, traditional acupuncture, auricular acupuncture, laser acupuncture and electro-acupuncture to treat RP and other degenerative eye conditions. For more information, visit: www.acuvisiontherapy.com



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Falling Down and Standing Back Up

Written By: ingridricks - Oct• 13•14

resetSo after making it the entire month of September on a fairly strict anti-inflammatory diet (no dairy, no gluten, no corn, no beef…and only an occasional glass of red wine), I fell off the wagon in a big way this past week.

The culprit? Travel.

I seem to be fine when I’m at home, but the minute I step on a plane and head out of town for work or to meet up with friends, my diet is shot. This past week I’ve downed beer, Mexican food (plenty of flour tortillas, corn chips and cheese), Indian food—which included a helping of nan, a slice of pizza and lots of sandwich bread during lunches while working at a school. I even ordered a steak and baked potato one night and loaded the potato with butter. And without a juicer in my hotel room, my entire vegetable intake for the five days I was away came down to a BBQ chicken salad and a garden omelet.

Beyond the diet disaster, I didn’t do my eye exercises or acupressure, didn’t get in a cardio workout, didn’t do my daily micro-current stimulation. I just couldn’t bring myself to do any of it — even though I KNOW how important it all is.

Now I’m back in Seattle and making a vow to get back on track. I think I’m beginning to understand what an alcoholic must feel like: it’s one day at a time, with occasional slip-ups along the way. All I can do is stand back up, brush myself off and get back on the wagon.

I kicked off today with a green juice , stir-fried broccoli and a morning off eye exercises and acupressure. I also hit the gym for a cardio workout during lunch and have salmon on the dinner menu. Rather than beating myself up over this, I’m reminding myself that all any of us can do is the best we can do on any given day. And if we screw up one day (or even five days), the key is to start over the next.

Here’s to all of us who are doing our best to save our eyesight — and to hitting the ‘reset’ button when we occasionally mess up.


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FFB Spokesperson Shares Thoughts/Experience with Acupuncture

Written By: ingridricks - Oct• 01•14

Fame & Fashion photo with kids october 2013I was immediately fascinated when I heard April Lufriu’s story because of her role as a national spokesperson for the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB).

April’s involvement with FFB goes back to 2007, when she started doing vision walks to raise money and awareness that she hoped would help find a cure for her sister’s RP. Then, in 2010, she learned that she also suffered from RP, and that her son and daughter did as well.

While April’s RP is fairly moderate, her son Brandon—now fifteen—suffers from the aggressive X-linked form of RP that affects males. Devastated to learn the news and determined to help her children save their eyesight, she stepped up her involvement with FFB and became a national spokesperson for the foundation after winning the prestigious Mrs. America pageant in 2012.

April’s determination to fight this disease “at every angle” recently led to her try acupuncture for her son. Now, along with continuing to work alongside FFB to fight for a cure, she’s sharing her family’s acupuncture experience in hopes that it will help others battling RP know that there’s something they can do TODAY to help their eyesight.

Here is April’s story—in her words.

IR: How did you become the national spokesperson for the Foundation Fighting Blindness?

April: After I was crowned Mrs. America 2012, the Foundation Fighting Blindness offered me the prestigious title because of the notoriety & national spotlight I was receiving being Mrs. America. Then I proceeded to win the Mrs. World title just eight months later, which catapulted me into a larger spotlight. My mission was to raise awareness for Retinitis Pigmentosa as well as raise funds for research to find a cure. Even though my reigns are over, my fight continues!!

IR:  What made you decide to give Dr. Rosenfarb’s acupuncture treatment a try?

April: After hearing a testimony from a client’s employee who has been seeing Dr. Andy Rosenfarb for nine to ten years, I was convinced his treatments were working because she is still able to drive and function normally with Usher’s Syndrome. I was so baffled by this news that I had to learn more.

IR: I know your son has undergone two week-long treatments with Dr. Rosenfarb over this past year. What benefits, if any, has he experienced? And what has it meant for you, as his mother?

April: The true test was my recognition of knowing and seeing that Dr. Rosenfarb’s treatments were working on my son. A mother’s test of knowing her children is the ultimate test. On the third day of the first round of treatments, my son mentioned that he could style his hair in the mirror without his contacts or glasses. He couldn’t do that before. During the second round of treatments, my son was amazed that his central vision at night showed a glimpse of his surroundings that he could not see before at night. When my son visited his ophthalmologist one month after the first round of treatments, the doctor was amazed how his acuity improved from 20/80 to 20/50 & 20/60. Our doctor could never before correct my son’s vision with corrective lenses to that degree.

IR: For so long, it’s felt like a big divide between the Foundation Fighting Blindness and the acupuncture/holistic health approach to treating RP. It’s so upsetting to me that those of us struggling with RP continue to be told that there is nothing we can do to halt the progression of our disease or improve our eyesight — when so many of us are discovering otherwise. I think that if we are going to beat this disease, both sides have to work together on an integrated health approach that combines acupuncture, diet, lifestyle and other holistic treatments with stem cell research, gene therapies and other exciting advancements. Can you share your thoughts on this?

April: Many people are skeptical…..I was one of them. However, I can only speak for the improvements I see with my son. I do know that my son only being 15 years old will have more improvements than someone older. I can’t say for sure, but with him being so young his body has responded immensely. My sister has had improvements, but not to the degree of my son. I always mention to others that ask about acupuncture that the risks are beyond minimal and there is nothing to lose. I took the leap of faith and I am so glad I did knowing I am fighting RP at every angle. I am also continuing to fight alongside the Foundation Fighting Blindness to find the cure to eradicate this disease.

IR: As someone who is fighting this disease from both ends of the spectrum, what advice do you have for people struggling with RP?

April: The best of advice I can give people is to take a chance on the treatments and testimonies you are hearing from other patients receiving the acupuncture treatments. Look at the amount of people that travel far distances to see Dr. Andy Rosenfarb. That speaks volumes!!! You don’t know until you try…………..I never assume anything in life. See for yourself.


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Taking Charge of Our Eye Health

Written By: ingridricks - Sep• 20•14

View More: http://heatherballisonphotography.pass.us/ingrid-2013When I first started on this eyesight healing quest in early February 2013, I was at the lowest point in my life.

After waiting for six months to see a retinal specialist because I’d heard she was starting stem cell clinical trials, I was told that RP was an orphan disease and was too low on the priority list to receive funding to take promising research to the next level. Then she confirmed what I already knew – that my vision was down to three or four degrees of central vision with a strip of blurry vision in my outer pheriphery – and told me I had cataracts forming. Like every other eye doctor I’d visited, she said there was nothing I could do to save my eyesight and indicated I had only a few years left to see.

I cried for two days straight and then decided I was done with “no hope” and was going to fix my eyesight myself through naturopathy and specialized acupuncture.

It’s been a year and a half and instead of getting worse, my eyesight has improved. I now have so much peripherial vision that I recently played tennis with my daughters. I still have a donut of blindness around my central core – but it’s shrinking and I no longer worry about going blind. I know that if I keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll continue to see.

I feel like I’ve been given back my life. And I’m now on a quest to help others dealing with a degenerative eye disease say “NO” to “NO HOPE” and take charge of their eye health.

On Tuesday, September 23rd I’ll be leading a free eye health workshop at Des Moines Library in the Seattle area. The workshop is being supported by an artist grant I received from 4Culture. If you know anyone who might benefit, please share this blog post with them. Here’s to our eyesight – and our overall health.

4culture_colorFrom Powerless to Empowered: Five Secrets to Taking Charge of Your Eye Health

  • When: Tuesday, Sept. 23rd at 6 p.m.
  • Where: Des Moines Library -21620 11th Avenue S  206.824.606

Refusing to accept that there was no hope or cure for her degenerative eye disease and that she would soon be completely blind, author Ingrid Ricks decided to take charge of her eye health through a holistic approach that integrates naturopathy and Chinese medicine. Ricks will share her journey from victim to eye health advocate, read a short piece from her memoir in progress, and discuss the five things she’s been doing to maintain and improve her eyesight. She will also demonstrate simple eye exercises and acupressure points that have been proven to benefit eyesight.

Ingrid Ricks is an author, eye health advocate and teen mentor. Her memoirs include The New York Times Best Seller Hippie Boy and Focus, a memoir about her journey with the blinding eye disease Retinitis Pigmentosa. She is currently working on a memoir about her quest to save her eyesight, and is blogging about her journey at www.determinedtosee.com. Ingrid’s work has been supported by a 2014 Grant for Artist Projects.


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