Tag Archives: Retina

Say No To Floppy Bits

The Run for Retina Research Half Marathon starts in about 14 hours. W00t!

It’s about 14 hours until the Run for Retina Research half marathon starts, and despite a wonky feeling knee I’m pretty excited. I’m hoping that tomorrow’s run will be one that reminds me that I can do this1.

I arrived in London earlier this afternoon and checked into the Delta London Armouries2. While it wasn’t the cheapest hotel to stay in, it was sufficiently close to the start of the race to justify the expense. Plus, I felt like spoiling myself a little bit. I could justify splurging, but really, it’s not splurging if it has to be justified. I just wanted to splurge.

I digress.

So as I mentioned, tomorrow is the half marathon. This represents the second of 5 races that I’ve registered myself in (the first being the 30k Around the Bay in Hamilton that I ran a few weeks ago). This particular run aims to raise money for retinal disease research (something that is near and dear to me). If you haven’t done so already and are able to do so, please click on the Run for Retina Research logo to the right to donate.

Anyway, according to the very nice ladies that were handing out the race kits – there are about 200 people registered for the half, and about 1100 registered for all the races in total. This will be the smallest half marathon that I’ve competed in, save for the 1 man races I’ve done during training. This suggests that crowding on the course will be left to a minimum. Further, the course runs along the river so it should be spectacular in terms of the view. Both of these things make me very happy.

The race course.

The only thing that might be an issue tomorrow is the temperature. The interwebs suggest that it might be as hot as 21 Celsius. This is about 10 degrees hotter than the temperatures that I’ve trained in. Oh well, I’ll just have to make sure I’m fuelled and hydrated appropriately. And if necessary, strip down to the bare essentials (but not too bare – because I’m sure no one wants to see floppy bits flopping about) so that I don’t overheat or exhaust myself.

As with the Around the Bay race, I’m going to broadcast my run live. Check it out here if you are bored. The race starts at 9:30am, and if all goes well I should be done by 11:30am or earlier.

21.1k – I’ve got this. W00t!

1 Where this refers to run long distances without b0rking, and better yet run a full marathon without collapsing into a puddle of gelatinous carbon based goo.

2 I could have stayed with Steph & Eric or at a cheaper hotel, but I decided to treat myself. First – I’ve never stayed at the Armouries and thought that it would be extra schwanky (which it is). Second – I didn’t want to disturb Steph & Eric since they have family staying with them. Finally – I just wanted to spoil myself3.

3 Okay, that’s probably the most important reason.

I’ve Got That Throw-Uppy Feeling Again

You may recall that yesterday I mentioned I’d almost forgotten to register for the Run for Retina Research half marathon.

Shocking, I know.

Well not to worry folks – I managed to get myself registered between some of the many meetings I had today. As of this very moment, my official list of races includes the Chocolate Run 10 Miler, the Run for Retina Research half marathon, the Toronto Goodlife Marathon, and the Ottawa Marathon. I’m also awaiting info regarding a bib for the 30k Around the Bay in Hamilton. To be honest, I’m a little bit nervous and a whole-lotta excited about all of these races. Perhaps I’m somewhat throw-uppy too.

Yup, just checked – definitely throw-uppy – but in a good way.

Beyond running 21.1 km, the Run for Retina half marathon is also a fundraising event with the specific goal of raising awareness and research dollars that will help scientists study retinal diseases such as Macular Degeneration, Retinal Pigmentosa, Stargardt’s Disease, and others. For those of you not in the know, these diseases are far more common than you might think. They can also be extremely debilitating, as they can lead to partial or complete blindness.

Anyway, some of you will know that retinal diseases are rather important to me, so when I realized the opportunity to raise money for such a worthy cause, I had to jump. And with that, this is my not-so-subtle way of asking you to donate to the cause.

If I weren't guaranteed to suffocate to death in these eyeball costumes, I'd totally wear this during the half marathon.

For those of you with the means and the inclination to do so, I’ve put together a rather simple little donation page through the Running Room1 which you can access by clicking here2 (or by clicking on the Run For Retina Research icon over there on the right side of the page).

My goal is to raise at least $500. So if you’ve got some cash burning a hole in your pocket, why not throw it in my general direction? And by that, I don’t mean throw it at me, I clearly mean donate it. Because donating is good for you; it’s been scientifically proven by scienticians to improve your cardiovascular health, lower your cholesterol, and help you lose weight or gain weight – depending on what you’re trying to do; it leads to rock hard abs and a butt that won’t quit, and it is also guaranteed to improve your sex life3.

With a list of benefits like that, you’d be almost crazy NOT to donate. ;)

1 And by put together I mean I didn’t do anything at all, save for enter my name and press the magic go button. Then, presto-change-o, my fundraising page was born! Oh the magic of the interwebs. Is there anything it can’t do?

2 Or if you are wary about online donations, I can also collect the cash from you and submit the pledge that way.

3 Or donating will just make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. I don’t really know. I’m not a scientician.

What’s Another 67.1?

While in between meetings today I happened to check on my friend Carolyn’s blog, and realized that I had completely forgotten to register myself for an upcoming race.


The run that had slipped my mind? None other than the Run for Retina half marathon in London, Ontario. The run takes place April 15, and is intended to raise money and awareness for retinal health.

Specifically, the website states:

“Run for Retina is an event developed to raise funds for research at the Ivey Eye Institute in London Ontario. Thousands in our community and beyond suffer from genetic retina eye disorders such as Retinitis Pigmentosis, Best’s Disease, Usher Syndrome, Coat’s Disease, Age Related Macular Degeneration and Stargardt’s Disease, a juvenile form of Macular Degeneration.”

Given that I’ve been to the Ivey Eye Institute on numerous occasions, and given that my eyes are – shall we say slightly b0rked – I figured this would be a great way to support the research done there. Plus, I get to run a half marathon, and that’s a whole lot of alright. Further, since it is scheduled for the 15th of April, two weeks before the Chocolate Race 10 Miler (which I’ve already registered myself in), and three weeks before the first marathon of the year, it will act as a great training run.

Anyway, after I realized that I’d forgotten about the Run for Retina half marathon, it struck me that I’d also forgotten to hunt for a bib for the 30k Around the Bay in Hamilton (March 25). At this point, I’m not positive I’ll be running the Around the Bay as I’ve been slacking in the running department over the past few weeks. However, if I can manage to get off my butt and do some serious running over the next few days, I’m sure I’ll change my mind.

And when you think about it, that works out to an extra 3 races, and an extra 21.1+16+30=67.1km of running. How can I say no to that?


Just hanging out at the emergency room
Just hanging out in the emergency room. It's what the cool kids are doing.

Hmm, my eyes are doing something really weird this evening. Weirder than normal, that is. I’m assuming it’s related to the standard weirdness that are my eyes.

The thing that’s different this eve is that I’m not seeing the standard distortion, per se. Instead, it’s like I’m not seeing anything. Let me qualify that. I’m seeing things, but my central vision is b0rked up.

For example, let’s assume that I’m reading the word people. When I look at the e, the p to the left completely disappears. No distortion. No wavy lines. No haze. No greying. It’s just not there. Normally there’s a distorted p or some sort of blob that tells me that there is something there and I should probably pay attention to it. But not this eve.

And now I’m seeing wavy colours. Did someone spike my coffee with a hallucinogen?

K – I’m going to leave my post there. Me thinks this is a job for someone more qualified in the realm of vision expertise. The distortions are par for the course, but I draw the line at wavy colours.

Yes – my metric for eye health is weird.

Okay. So I had my brother bring me to the hospital because my vision was getting far too weird.

No worries though folks. I feel fine. It’s probably just an ocular migraine. Or retinal detachment. Nothing serious. My central vision seems to be fine now, but the wavy stuff is still in the peripheral.

Anyway, I’ll keep you updated as things progress.

Is Your Face Supposed To Look Like That?

So I’m writing this post with just my right eye open, because my left eye has developed another retinal blister. “Ew”, you say. I agree. Ew indeed. This is all part and parcel of a retinal disease known as (Age related) Macular Degeneration, a degenerative retinal disease that I was diagnosed with several years ago (as most of you are likely aware1). I affectionately refer to it as MacD, but the bio-nerds researching it usually call it AMD (for Age related Macular Degeneration). Of course, what I have is not age related, as the age in age related generally implies someone in their 70s or 80s. In my case, the doctors think it is a genetic condition, but we aren’t aware of anyone else in my family that has it or has had it. Perhaps relatives that would have developed it died too early for us to know?

Anyway, while the long-term prognosis isn’t good (i.e., the doctors expect that I will be blind by my early 40s), today I read an article which offered some hope to those that suffer with MacD2. It can be found here. The gist of the article: healthy eyes break down a type of RNA molecule that is toxic to the retinal cells, whereas unhealthy eyes (i.e., eyes like mine) do not. This finding offers hope because it provides researchers with something to aim for. That is, if they can stop the toxic RNA from doing what it does to the retinal cells, they can prolong vision in those with the disease. The article does mention 2 promising therapies, but clinical trials will not begin until the end of the year.

If you are wondering what MacD is like, here are some sample pictures that I pilfered from a site that I visit frequently (as it has an Amsler Grid that I use to test my vision):

Healthy eyes would see the girl like this.
AMD eyes might see her blurred (I experience this).
AMD eyes might see her distorted. (I also experience this, especially when I have blisters).
Advanced AMD. (I do not, thankfully, experience this as of yet).

Now, because of the disease and my rather nerdy ways, I like to track the degeneration as best I can. To do this, I use an iPhone application called EyeXam (yes, there’s even an App for that!). It’s pretty cool, and will test other vision issues such as astigmatism or colour blindness. It’s free, so if you have an iPhone, download it and check it out. Eye health is important. Anyway, I find both the tests and the disease all very cool, in a completely nerdy and science-y kind of way. I especially like the app because it includes an interactive Amsler Grid. The grid itself looks like a normal sheet of graph paper, which is how healthy eyes would see it. MacD eyes see distorted or bent lines, or blurred areas. They may also not be able to see the corners of the grid when it is held at the correct testing distance. I see both blurred spots and distortions, and I have issue seeing the upper left corner.

Getting back to the application; the interactive part of the interactive Amsler Grid is such that the app allows me to draw where I see distortions or blurred vision. So, as of right now, I see major distortions (worse than those illustrated by the third picture of the girl above) where I’ve drawn the red blob:

This is just my left eye at the moment. My right eye is functioning normally.

The blister(s) causing the distortion can last for minutes, hours, days, and in some cases weeks or months. At times they can be hilarious, especially when they distort what I’m viewing into a tiny point. Imagine looking at someones face, but with a fun house mirror filter over your mirror. A fun house mirror that just so happens to squish all of your face into a tiny point. Hilarity for sure. Of course, the blisters can also be very annoying, especially if I’m trying to read or write. But I’ve learned to work around them, or in certain cases, I just go to bed or pour myself another glass of wine. LOL.

I also purposely bought HUGE sunglasses this summer, as a result of the MacD. Well, huge for me. The idea: to protect my eyes as much as I can, as sunlight is apparently not a friend to my retinas. To be honest, I wasn’t comfortable buying glasses this large because I felt they were too big for me, and made me look like an alien or a bug. I have always been partial to smaller glasses, so this was out of my comfort zone in a huge way. But I’m not one who runs away from discomfort, so I bought them, and after wearing them for a while now, I’ve grown to love them and am very happy with my purchase. And I think I look like hot shit in them. LOL.

Me, with Elliot the cat (who just happens to be the most amazing cat ever) and my big sunglasses. For the record, I do not have a cat. Elliot belongs to my friend Jamie.

Anyway, I will no doubt post more about this condition, or any adventures that occur as a result of it. I mean, if I do anything like footnote 3 or 4 listed below (again), clearly I have to let you know :)

1 I’ve also been diagnosed with several other retinal problems: Central serous chorioretinopathy, dominant drusen, and something called Sick Retinal Pigment Epithelium. I also have a lot of floaters, which as I understand, are caused by my eyes bleeding. Awesome. It’s like my eyes are having a giant unprotected orgy, and my retinas are clearly picking up every disease possible. Despite the slew of conditions, they are all, according to my docs, related to the overarching diagnosis of MacD. Hence, I just say MacD when queried about my peepers. It’s easier that way.

2 Note, I don’t feel that I suffer from this, per se. I mean, my vision is still relatively good compared to others that have the disease. I can still function without any sort of assistance, and my life has been relatively unaffected. That’s not to say I haven’t modified some behaviours: I don’t bike at night (as my night vision is terrible3); I often wear sunglasses whenever I’m in a car at night, because the oncoming traffic blinds me; and the magnifying function on my MacBook Pro is my best friend. But, I can still manage to work, and post to my blog. Clearly it’s not that bad :)

3 For example, I may or may not have, during an evening ride, biked into a car. That was parked. Multiple times4.

4 My biking into things is not limited to the eve. A few summers back, I was biking with my brother through Preservation Park in Guelph. I managed to bike into a tree. Twice. This particular tree just happened to have been covered somehow with poison ivy, or poison oak. And I may have ended up looking like this.

This is not, I repeat not herpes. It is either poison ivy or poison oak.

Clearly the tree was out to get me.


Follow up: I wrote this post last night but am only now getting around to posting it.  In that time, the blister has decreased in size, so I do not have to work with just one eye anymore.  I find this a bit sad on some level, as I had been hoping to attend my Monday meetings as a pirate.  Argggggh!