7.23.2010

Glenn Beck's vision

Glenn Beck, who has moved up through the ranks of the despicable and self-aggrandizing, has now been handed an opportunity to turn the enigmatic energy that appeals to millions into a positive force.

Beck has announced (LINK) that he has been diagnosed with macular dystrophy, one of a group of retinal disorders including retinitis pigmentosa (RP), which has affected my own family for generations. These retinal disorders, which include macular degeneration affecting one in 10 Americans over age 65, lead to legal then total blindness.

Despite my feelings about Beck as a political propagandist, I empathize when he says, “I know what my wife looks like. I know what my children look like. I have a great imagination. I know what color looks like. But I love to read. I thought to myself I’m too darn lazy to learn Braille.”

To best explain how retinal disorders affect a person’s life one need only note the functions of the normal retina.

In the normal eye, sight is processed through the cornea, iris, pupil and lens toward its final destination: the retina, a layer of nerve tissue which lines the back of the eye. At the center of the retina is the macula. Only 1.5 millimeters in diameter, the macula is responsible for the clearest, most detailed vision. (www.eyenet.com, official site of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.)

The retina is made up of two types of cells: rods and cones. The rods are designed for night vision, allow the detection of movement and objects and provide peripheral vision – what a person sees out of the so-called “corner of the eye.” Millions of cone cells, sensitive to light, detail and color, are packed into the macula. Cones provide the visual details which allow the normal eye to scan an eye chart, see a stop sign or read a newspaper. To experience the sensation known as color, the cones have three different pigments which act as a palette mixing blue, red or green wavelengths of light. If a person is missing one or more of the pigments, color-blindness results. (“Vision and Aging,” Eleanor E. Faye, B.A., M.D., Ophthalmologist, Editor. The Lighthouse International.)

Quite simply, retinal disorders destroy the functions of the normal retina.

The Foundation Fighting Blindness (LINK), formerly The Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation, is the national clearinghouse for research for a cure and even a reversal of vision loss. Amazing advances have been made toward this end.

Mr. Beck can now use his broadcast influence to call attention to these robbers of vision in much the same way Michael J. Fox, the late Christopher Reeve and Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn have used their afflictions to stir interest in and stimulate contributions for medical research.

Beck says he could be blind in a year – plenty of time to see the light, to stop tilting at windmills and to devote his energies to the common good.

5 comments:

Papamoka said...

Great piece BJ and wishful thinking that Beck will use his powers for good and not evil. Hugs at ya.

Tiny said...

Great educational information for your readers. Tiny empathizes with those who are dealing with any kind of health challenges. Like you, we can always hope there will be a transformation for the better that life has to offer. Only time will tell.

Thanks for another excellent post.

tnlib said...

Interesting and educational, BJ. As you know, I saw my grandfather struggle with total blindness every day of his life - a condition he'd had since he contracted the measles at age seven. He overcame his handicap to own and operate broom shops and concession stands in state buldings, to own a couple of apartment buildings across town and serve on the board of the TN School for the Blind. He had a keen ear, was a beautiful violinist and tuned pianos on the side. In the car (mostly he took the bus) he could tell what intersection you were in just by the sounds ad smells.

So, while life is more difficult, it doesn't end and people learn to compensate. Maybe as Beck faces these new hurdles he will become more compassionate. Only time will tell. I think it's about as likely as Rush growing a heart but we'll see.

This really was interesting and I'm glad you took the time to explain it.

Infidel753 said...

.....research for a cure and even a reversal of vision loss. Amazing advances have been made toward this end.

And we would be much closer to a cure for at least some of these conditions already, had it not been for the years wasted due to the Bush administration's restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research.

Frodo, striking beck said...

For $24 Million a year, and a pact with the Devil, the Washington Senators won the World Series. The play, "Damn Yankees," and the life of Glenn Beck, are on a parallel course.