by Professor William Vandry
“I’ve never felt sorry for myself, so why should anyone else?”
-William Vandry in newspaper interview 2003
The information presented on this site is not intended for diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your own physician for medical advice or services. The information provided on this website is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be considered a replacement for the expert advice of a qualified health practitioner
Jiu jitsu is an answer to many challenges. Challenges such as low self esteem, arrogance, bad health, seeking to belong to a community, goal developing. These are some challenges a good Jiu-jitsu school can help overcome. The legally blind have another challenge-overcoming lack of vision.
Challenges occur in many ways. Being overweight, getting in shape, learning self defense, etc. are all part of common challenges in this world. Past articles such as overcoming joint issues, or obesity statistics from medical journals show they can be overcome. Handicaps are a challenge, and overcoming them is only a test in life that you must accept. I was quoted in a 2012 article on this:
“Fourth and last, I have taught many clinics with the blind, and at Criss Cole over the years, and if there is one goal I intend to accomplish with blind students, the message is to not allow you to be immersed in self-pity, or hopelessness. This type of motivation is not just for blind people. We have so many people in the USA that have ups and downs that need this lesson instilled as well.”
I have worked with blind people since 1998. I had become visually impaired in 1997. For those who wonder about different forms of blindness, many think blind people see just black. Actually many blind people have light or some sense of sight, it has to do with clarity and inability to make out objects in their view.
I have seen handicaps worse than blindness. One of them is ignorance. For example:
1. When President Bush was in office, after mocking a reporter for wearing sunglasses, his ignorance was exposed when he was notified the reporter was legally blind. The reporter has a condition where he is sensitive to light.
2. Fast food employees mocked a blind woman who needed help reading menu. Alice Camarillo, who is legally blind, says she was ridiculed when she asked for help reading the menu at fast-food restaurants like Burger King, McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Wendy’s. She sued. A federal judge in Albany threw it out, saying the law doesn’t require restaurant workers to be polite. A Manhattan federal appeals court overruled the lower court, and Camarillo can sue the restaurants under the Americans with Disabilities Act. During a visit to Burger King, employees “laughed and stared” and pointed her in the direction of the men’s room when she asked for a bathroom, she claims. At Taco Bell, a cashier told her to wait until the rest of the customers had ordered.
3. Saturday Night Live TV show mocked blind Governor David Paterson with classless lure for ratings in 2008. As if the public outcry wasn’t enough, NBC’s ‘comedy’ show “Saturday Night Live” again lampooned New York State’s legally blind Governor David Paterson and showed him aimlessly rolling around the ‘Weekend Update’ set, and mocking his inability to see. Making a public figure the target of satire based on the performance of their public duties is one thing, but making a joke out of his disability is just pathetic and shameful. And perhaps because the public outrage, SNL decided to milk it – after all, even negative publicity is still publicity.
4. In 2009, the Duke of Edinburgh, who has a well-earned reputation for putting his foot in his mouth, made yet another gaffe when he mocked the sight of a blind boy. The family of Stephen Menary, a teenage army cadet who was blinded in an IRA bombing, had been invited to meet the Queen and her husband at a tree planting event in Hyde Park. After the Queen asked the then 15-year-old how much sight he had left, the Duke of Edinburgh responded: “Not a lot, judging by the tie he’s wearing”.
Joking to make light of blindness are things I do all the time. When I first began to cook after my sight issue, I would flip omelettes and accidentally land them on my foot. Many times when I have knocked glasses over or sometimes misidentify someone, you have to keep going with a smile. But never mock or try to use it as a satire. It got back to me a past student of mine somehow thought it was funny to make blind jokes. I cleared him up really fast. I despise cowards. I cannot tolerate them. I cannot tolerate bullies, stalkers, or those that predate upon the weak. Those are all shameful disgraces in society. However, there are even worse handicaps.
I have spent many times with students who endured depression, marriage breakups, deaths in their family, divorces, job losses, and I never turned my back to them. In this world there will many times the ones you are there for will turn their back on you.
t will happen. And it does happen alot to blind people. I remember in 1998 I met a woman in Temple who formed a club for blind people. I also found out how so many people are ostracized, patronized, and even treated like children from their own friends and family.
These acts are truly a shame and disgrace. Whenever a narcistic or person with low self esteem has to do that to a blind person has no use in society.
I remember when I first taught blind students Jiu-jitsu. There was a young woman 19 years old, who was totally out of control, disrespectful, and disrupting the entire class of Jiu-jitsu. See, this was not her fault. This was a young woman who had been blind since birth. I had one of my assistants pin her and apply weight so she would feel pressure. I told her I did not want her disrupting my class. She asked if she could get up and continue the class. Guess what happened? She became the best student of the course. That probably was the first time in her life she ever was treated without pity, or sorrow due to her handicap. I bet she became something successful in life.
I feel blind people have a greater challenge in many ways. Reading, writing, driving, identifying people, getting regular job, all of these are strikes against the blind. But it is not a failure, or an excuse. It is a motivation to overcome.
Dr. Fredric Schroeder, commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration during the Clinton administration, delivered a powerful address to the participants attending during the first plenary session of the gathering on December 5, 2007. Schroeder made comments I found enlightening regarding the prejudice, and expectations of failure:
“…Given proper training and opportunity, blind people can compete on terms of equality with their sighted peers….”
“…Dr. Jernigan understood that the isolation of the blind–the lack of opportunity–was the outgrowth of societal misconceptions about blindness or, said another way, prejudice based on myth and misunderstanding….”
“…I respect the illiterate, but I do not celebrate the lack of opportunity that inevitably results. I respect the unemployed, but I do not celebrate the 80 percent unemployment rate among the blind…”
“…I respect differences, but I do not celebrate the consequences of low expectations. I respect the victims of oppression and prejudice, but I do not respect prejudice and oppression. Doing better is not enough, not enough if it means helping blind people move from despair to lesser despair, from hopelessness to lesser hopelessness, from poverty to lesser poverty, when something more is within reach…”
“…I believe the greatest challenge that confronts us is not external. It is not the challenge of finding the money to support our programs, even though it may feel like that from day to day. It is the challenge of resisting false pride, the idea that there is nothing more for us to learn. It is the challenge of resisting complacency, resisting falling into comfortable patterns, putting off the hard things. It is the challenge of facing our own beliefs about blindness, facing our own fears and uncertainty. It is the challenge of resisting the paralysis of doubt…”
Dr. Schroeder pounces on what the worst disease of all is, excuses, complacency, failing to stimulate the uninspired. I have never tolerated complacency. I always believed you can conquer anything. Goals are ideal, and even if some don’t make it, others do. The first goal is to identify your challenge, then proceed to solve it. In my career, I have seen grown adults with no visual handicaps end up being more disabled with their own inabilities to overcome challenges.
Nutrition, technology vs. blindness
I have researched medicine since my teens. I love to research and explore new Jiu-jitsu angles on the mat, and try new theories. My mentor Carlos Machado never scolded me, reprimanded me or told me to just stick with the technique. He always liked me exploring, where at times many may not. I study and research medicine not because it is a reason to act knowledgeable. No, its more than that. We should always look for more answers. We know so little, and we all need to learn more and more. Different forms of blindness I am familiar with. 80% of all visual impairment can be avoided, and I mentioned this along with details in last year’s article (June 2013 see below). Here are some conditions many blind persons endure, and here is a little research I did:
Rod cone dystrophy (from wikipedia)
A cone dystrophy is an inherited ocular disorder characterized by the loss ofcone cells, the photoreceptors responsible for both central and color vision. Due to an inherited disorder, there are no cures for Rod cone dystrophy. However, research is hopeful as reversal has been done to dogs in surgery:
Cone-Rod Dystrophy Gene Therapy Rescues Vision in Canines
French research team led by Fabienne Rolling, Ph.D., of INSERM, has used gene therapy to restore vision in a canine model of cone-rod dystrophy caused by mutations in the gene RPGRIP1. Reported in the journal Molecular Therapy, the advancement marks the first time RPGRIP1 gene therapy has been used successfully in a large-animal model of cone-rod dystrophy. Demonstration of safety and efficacy in a large animal is an important step in moving the therapy into human studies. Dr. Rolling says that her team is now adapting the RPGRIP1 for evaluation in humans.
Myopia also known as nearsightedness, is a very common ocular problem. Prevention is partially possible by avoiding reading closely for prolonged periods during childhood. Ray Sahelian M.D. has a supplement he developed that may improve sight conditions.
Myopia treatment – nutrition for eye health
The lens, retina, macula, and other parts of the eye involved in eyesight can be protected with the proper intake of antioxidants. Almost all the antioxidants likely have a positive influence on eye health. Of particular importance are vitamins C, E, selenium, and the carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables. Two particular carotenoids, called lutein and zeaxanthin, play an important role in protecting eye tissue in the macula from damage by free radicals, and perhaps partially help prevent myopia or reduce myopia severity progression. in many herbs, including milk thistle and bilberry. Interestingly, bilberry contains anthocyanosides that could be beneficial in myopia. Fish oil supplements are helpful since the retina needs the important fatty acid DHA for optimal visual acuity. Eyesight Rx is the product you can search on his website.
CVI, TBI, and Neurological Vision Loss
Cortical visual impairment (CVI), and cerebral visual impairment (CVI), are terms often used to describe visual impairment that occurs because of injury or damage to the brain, as are neurological vision loss, brain-damage-related visual impairment, and vision loss due to traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Although CVI is a trauma or a type of damage which is not a normal disease, there are no cures stated. I had CVI, and I have found research in areas such as Infrared and supplements (see below) that may help some improve.
The major causes of CVI are as follows: asphyxia, hypoxia (a lack of sufficient oxygen in the body’s blood cells), or ischemia (not enough blood supply to the brain), all of which may occur during the birth process; developmental brain defects; head injury; hydrocephalus (when the cerebrospinal fluid does not circulate properly around the brain, and collects in the head, putting pressure on the brain); a stroke involving theoccipital lobe; and infections of the central nervous system, such as meningitis and encephalitis.
Cataract prevention and treatment with natural supplements, herbs and vitamins. Here are points from Dr. Sahelian’s website:
I have researched Dr. Sahelian’s website for years on many diseases, and his knowledge of nutrition. Sahelian is an M.D., and references medical journals.
A cataract is a cloudy or opaque area in the lens of the eye. Sahelian points to preventative measures or slowing the process of cataracts:
– Quitting smoking reduces the risk. JAMA Ophthalmology, news release, Jan. 2, 2014
– Various antioxidants may be helpful in prevention or reducing the risk of cataract formation. Some may even help improve vision in certain cases.
– Lutein is potentially helpful in slowing the process of cataract formation. Lutein is a carotenoid found in green and leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach, and it is also available as a supplement.
– Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant and helpful for those with diabetes. Effects of DL-alpha-lipoic acid on the experimentally induced diabetic cataract in rats. ( Zhonghua Yan Ke Za Zhi. 2004.) Alpha lipoic acid ingested orally can effectively reduce STZ-induced blood glucose and inhibit diabetic cataract formation in rats.
– CoQ10 has been studied in the lab but as of 2011 no human studies are available. Coenzyme Q10 prevents human lens epithelial cells from light-induced apoptotic cell death by reducing oxidative stress and stabilizing BAX / Bcl-2 ratio.
– Selenium has been linked with a reduced risk of cataract. Selenium activates the antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase, protecting cell membranes from oxidative damage. A dosage of 100 mcg a day seems to be sufficient.
– Bilberry has been studied in rodents as a way to prevent cataracts.
Cataract Diet – Foods as cause of cataract formation or those that are protective
– High intake of fruit and vegetables has a protective effect on cataract.
– High intake of sugar and high glycemic carbohydrates increases the risk for cataracts.
– People who eat lots of high glycemic index foods increase their risk of developing a cataract. Glycemic index, or GI, refers to how rapidly a food causes blood sugar to rise.
– Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids detected in the human lens and these nutrients play a role in preserving lens clarity. Archives of Ophthalmology, January 2008.
– Higher intakes of vitamin C or the combined intake of antioxidants had long-term protective associations against development of nuclear cataract. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87 1899-1905.
Smoking is the most common “modifiable” risk factor reported in population studies. Sun exposure and poor diets have also been associated with increased risk. Those who eat diets high in fruits and vegetables have a lower risk. Archives of Ophthalmology, 2010.
Consuming garlic could be helpful. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2009. Prevention of selenite-induced cataractogenesis in Wistar albino rats by aqueous extract of garlic.
Causes, medications, prescription drugs
– Beta blocker heart medication use is associated with a higher incidence of cataracts. British J Ophthalmology 2009.
– SSRI drugs, such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil, increase the risk for this eye disease.
– Treatment with topical corticosteroids increases the risk.
– Statin drugs used to lower cholesterol levels increase the risk.
Exotropia is a form of strabismus where the eyes are deviated outward. See Strabismus.
Optic nerve hypoplasia
The syndrome of optic nerve hypoplasia (ONH) is the under-development or absence of the optic nerve combined with possible brain and endocrine abnormalities. Stem cell research is promising, but no cures.
Optic Neuropathy or Optic nerve Atrophy
Many causes can result in Optic neuropathy, yet B1 or Thiamine is found again as referred elsewhere in this article. Toxins and deficiencies are in detail here:
Strabismuss is a form of Amblyopia. Amblyopia has three main causes (from wikipedia):
Strabismic: by strabisumus (misaligned eyes)
Refractive: by anisometropia (high degrees of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, in one or both eyes)
Deprivational: by deprivation of vision early in life by vision-obstructing disorders such as congential cataract.
Studies to Reverse strabismuss/amblyopia with atropine treatment
This NCBI medical research on atropine, patching, and combination therapy are methods used to attempt reversal this condition. More study and research should be funded.
CONCLUSIONS: In this community based ophthalmology practice, atropine, patching, and combination therapy appear to be equally effective modalities to treat ambyopia. Highly hyperopic patients under 4 years of age with dense, strabismic amblyopia and on daily atropine appeared to be most at risk for development of reverse amblyopia.
Nystagmus is characterized by an involuntary movement of the eyes, often noted as a shaky or wiggly movement.
– The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that a small study conducted on people with glaucoma showed that after eight weeks of taking 120 mg of ginkgo each day, the glaucoma patients showed some improvement in vision.
– Effects of oral Ginkgo biloba supplementation improvement on cataract formation and oxidative stress occurring in lenses of rats exposed to total cranium radiotherapy. Japan J Ophthalmology. 2004.
Nystagmus, Thiamin and Magnesium Deficiencies
This website has incredible research and Pubmed journal references to the correlation with Nystagmus and magnesium deficiency:
The studies below are samples of abstracts that link nystagmus to magnesium and/or thiamin deficiencies:
– In a study in the Netherlands in 1993, nystagmus was linked to hypomagnesemia (a deficiency of magnesium in the blood).
– In a paper published in 1981, the manifestations of magnesium deficiency noted include tremors, myoclonic jerks, convulsions, Chvostek sign, Trousseau sign, spontaneous carpopedal spasm, ataxia, nystagmus and dysphagia; psychiatric disturbances, cardiac arrhythmias.
– Researchers in Switzerland in a paper for the journal “Neurology” observed that one of their patients had “a periodic downbeat nystagmus with a cycle of 3 minutes 30 seconds, beating downward for a period of 90 seconds every 2 minutes”. They concluded that the nystagmus in this patient “may have resulted from severe hypomagnesemia, possibly associated with thiamin deficiency.”
– In a 1981 paper entitled, “Downbeat nystagmus with magnesium depletion“, the authors linked nystagmus in two patients to a magnesium deficiency. They also noted that, “Downbeat nystagmus also may occur from a partial deficiency of the metabolic cofactors, magnesium and thiamin.”
– Researchers from Israel found that “In the years 1994-1997, 9 patients with acute signs of ophthalmoplegia or nystagmus and ataxia which resolved within 48 hours after intravenous thiamin.”
For more examples of papers linking nystagmus to thiamin and/or magnesium deficiencies, go to PubMed and enter either “magnesium nystagmus” or “thiamin nystagmus” (without the quotes) in the search box.
Listed below is am excerpt from an abstract from the Pubmed database on magnesium deficiency that specifically notes nystagmus as one of the symptoms:
Magnesium deficiency. Etiology and clinical spectrum:
“The manifestations can be divided into the following categories: totally non-specific symptoms and signs ascribable to the primary disease:”
Neuromuscular hyperactivity including myoclonic jerks, convulsions, tremor, Chvostek sign, ataxia, Trousseau sign (rarely), spontaneous carpopedal spasm (rarely), nystagmus and dysphagia
The following conditions are commonly linked to nystagmus:
One of the symptoms of fibromyalgia is nystagmus. Fibromyalgia has been linked in some studies to magnesium deficiency. According to a very interesting web site by Mark London, “migraine headaches, mitral valve prolapse, and Raynaud’s phenomenon, all problems commonly found in people with fibromyalgia, are also problems that have been associated with a magnesium deficiency.” Magnesium deficiency is a common link between all of these symptoms.
Vertigo has been linked to nystagmus As noted above, vertigo is also a symptom of a magnesium deficiency.
Nystagmus is a common symptom of multiple sclerosis. A 1995 paper by researchers in Poland found that multiple sclerosis patients had a “statistically significant decrease” of erythrocyte magnesium levels.
Menieres disease is characterized by nystagmus, panic attacks, hearing loss, sensitivity to noise, vertigo, headaches and sweating. All of these conditions are also signs of a magnesium deficiency.
A scotoma is a blind spot (non-functional portion of the retinal field) in the visual field. Scintillating scotomas often are a symptom of migraine headaches. cotomas are considered a symptom of disease, not a disease in themselves and are not considered treatable. They may be a sign of a problem with the retina or damage to the optic nerve, such as that caused by glaucoma.
When a person is affected by achromatopsia, he is unable to differentiate between various colors. Right out of pubmed, it states due to research Colour vision in vitamin A deficiency. (Br Med J. Jan 8, 1977; 1(6053): 81.) There is no cure, although color lenses and new gene therapy are hopeful.
A partial absence of pigmentin the skin, hair and eyes due to absence or defect oftyrosinase, a copper-containing enzyme involved in the production of melanin. General: There is no cure for albinism.
Back to referencing my 2013 article on nutrition and research on blndness:
1. Three to four portions of spinach weekly can reverse at least early AMD.
2. Free radicals promote and speed macular degeneration as well as aging, heart disease, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease, among others.
3. High concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin, both of them carotenoids, are found in [and so, presumably, required by] the retina of the eye, explaining why consuming them in diet protects against macular degeneration.
4. Those who eat more sensibly and supplement antioxidants such as vitamins C and E develop cataracts much more slowly.
5. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame (Nutra-Sweet®) and nearly all processed foods contain dangerous quantities of glutamate, aspartate, cysteine and related compounds. These excitotoxic drugs, added to foods, discharge nerve cells in the mouth to augment the sensation of flavor. Aspartame breaks down into carcinogenic, eye-destroying formaldehyde and deadly methyl alcohol.
6. 50,000 units of vitamin D and one gram of calcium helped against eye conditions including myopia, keratoconus, cataract, optic nerve atrophy and retinitis pigmentosa.
Macular Degeneration and gall bladder removal connection
Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and clinic administrator Katherine Carrol wrote an article on reversing macular degeneration based on research connecting the disease with gall bladder removal:
We discovered this secret by observing hundreds of macular-degeneration patients and had noted in their history that many had had their gallbladder removed or else they were obese or otherwise compromised and had trouble digesting fats, as evidenced by their dry skin, dry eyes, weight gain, gas and bloating, or floating or shiny stools after fatty meals had been consumed. The connection was obvious! No gallbladder, fat maldigestion, or liver or GI issues equaled problems. Half a million people a year are opting for cholecystectomy (gallbladder surgery), not realizing that they can simply cleanse the liver and gallbladder with a “flush,” which is basically an “oil change” that removes old, stasis bile and relieves symptoms in most cases.”
Caroll notes the connection with Lutein and Zeaxanthin Need HDL Particles:
“…Lutein and zeaxanthin, critical components to replenish the macula, are carried in the bloodstream to the macula on HDL particles. That’s amazing. Carotenoids responsible for central vision hitch a ride on a cholesterol particle and hone in on their destination: the macula. And you thought cholesterol was the enemy … wrong! Cholesterol in a healthy ratio and thin bile are key players in this healthy-eye strategy. Bile is made of bile salts, cholesterol esters, and lecithin. Keep cholesterol at a healthy, total level and at an optimal HDL-to-low density lipoprotein (LDL) ratio because if cholesterol is too low, we will not have enough of the raw materials we need to make bile. Be sure you have what it takes to make cholesterol. Even magnesium plays a part. Blood-serum concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin by proper breakdown of nutrients into micellized globules is important, but equally important is the ability to transport them to their targeted destination. Unless HDL cholesterol is adequate – at least 61 milligrams per deciliter – time and money are potentially wasted on supplements…”
Aha, so Caroll verifies my research from last year.
TRetinitis Pigmentosa (pigmentosis) is a progressive degenerative disorder of the retina that can cause a profound loss of vision. This disease affects 1 out of 3700 people.
The progression of this condition can be reduced by the daily intake of 15000 IU (equivalent to 4.5 mg) of vitamin A palmitate.13
Recent studies have demonstrated that proper vitamin A supplementation can postpone blindness due to retinitis pigmentosa by up to 10 years.
Other studies have shown supplementing with nutrients such omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, lutein, vitamins E, C and alpha lipoic acid can help preserve vision. Future treatments may involve gene therapy, artificial retinal implants, retinal transplants, stem cells, nutritional supplements, and/or drug therapies. A 2012 animal study replaced photoreceptor cells where no host cells remained with transplanted rod precursor cells that reformed an anatomically distinct photoreceptor layer.14
14. Reversal of end-stage retinal degeneration and restoration of visual function by photoreceptor transplantation, Singh, et al, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jan 3, Epub.
Infrared treatment reverses blindness
Prospects for recovery of lost vision have brightened with the release of new scientific findings showing that the use of gentle near infra-red light can reverse damage caused by exposure to bright light, up to a month after treatment.
s Dr Krisztina Valter and doctoral researcher Rizalyn Albarracin have successfully demonstrated recovery of vision cells in the retina following near infra-red treatment applied after damage was sustained. Including for patients suffering from dry macular degeneration (dry AMD), now the most common cause of blindness in developed countries. Infrared can help to minimize damage caused by bright light and enhance recovery.
“Macular degeneration is responsible for around a half of the cases of blindness in Australia. The dry form, for which there is still no cure, accounts for 80-90 per cent of cases,” says Dr Valter, of The Vision Centre and AustralianNationalUniversity.
“Our research shows clear evidence of recovery of vision cells rom light damage, a good model for what happens in dry AMD.”
“Given the very high costs of blindness to any economy, it is encouraging to know that there is a simple, affordable technology in prospect which could help to reduce it.”
Ms Albarracin said that treating the retina with just a few minutes exposure to soft near-infra-red light a day for less than a week had produced a remarkable recovery in damaged photoreceptors (vision cells) which ordinarily would have died.
Their paper “Photobiomodulation protects the retina from light-induced photoreceptor degeration,” by Rizalyn Albarracin, Janis Eells and Krisztina Valter appears in the latest issue of the journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Vision Science.
I teach at the Texas School of the Blind each year at P.E. Department head Kristine Seljenes Project Camp Challenge. Kristine really has one of those sincere, noble passions for helping blind students. Each year I teach, I have a group of blind students who are now trying to get their lives together and future goals. This is a great challenge, and when I teach there, Jiu-jitsu is just to open the door. I want them to take on the world knowing they are just as equal to anyone else, and they can achieve goals. These kids have a larger challenge against their blind conditions. They have to overcome prejudices, but to me, the challenge of nutrition is greater. What if they could reverse or improve conditions with nutrition on previous scientific research? This too is a great discipline. The motivation to improve their health is primary, their focus on education, goals, business and most of all, one I had to overcome a long time ago, develop your independence, and break the statistics. Take care of your eyes. They are the only ones you have.
Professor William Vandry
Absorb and think