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Macular Degeneration Cooking Safety Tips for the Holidays

Macular Degeneration Cooking Safety Tips and Recipes

The holidays are upon us and that means lots of time spent in the kitchen. Cooking can be challenging for people with vision loss due to macular degeneration, but there’s no need to stay out of the kitchen this holiday!

Here are some quick and easy tips to help you stay safe in the kitchen and continue to participate in holiday food preparations.

At the cutting board 

  • Choose a cutting board that contrasts with the food you are cutting – dark for light foods, light for dark foods.
  • Use a well-sharpened knife.
  • Use gooseneck lighting to add extra light to your workspace and set it BELOW eye level to reduce glare while giving you plenty of light.

At the stovetop 

  • Avoid loose clothing/sleeves.
  • Turn off burners before moving a pan or pot.
  • When boiling, add items to the pot BEFORE heating the water.
  • To avoid oil burns and to keep oil from creating a mess, fry in a saucepan rather than a frying pan.

At the oven 

  • Avoid loose clothing/sleeves.
  • Wear large oven mitts (preferably that go up to the elbow).
  • Pull the oven rack out to check on foods or to place into or take out of oven.

Guests in Your Kitchen

During the holidays, you may find more cooks in your kitchen than you are used to.  If you have low vision or are legally blind, you might already have a personal system for organizing your kitchen and cooking in it.  Make sure you let your guest cooks know how to follow the rules of your kitchen.

If you keep your kitchen organized and always put items back in their place, ask your kitchen guests to do the same.

Establish a standard location to place knives when not in use and put dirty knives behind the faucet until you are ready to wash them.

Also, ask your guests to face all saucepan handles to the same side, facing away from the edge of the stove so you’ll know where to reach and won’t knock them off the stove.  If you’re unsure of where the handles are, use a long-handled wooden spoon to locate them.

Low Vision Kitchen Resources

And for the next holiday, and every day, ready your kitchen with low vision kitchen tools. Here are a few sites to get you started:
  • lowvisionchef.com – designed by a couple who have experience with macular degeneration!
  • maxiaids.com
  • amazon.com (try searching for low vision kitchen, or specific tools like “large print measuring cups”)

Eye Healthy Recipes

And of course, if you’re going to be in the kitchen, why not prepare some eye healthy recipes and use it as an opportunity to teach your friends and family about how to reduce their risk for AMD.

You can find some free recipes from the AMDF Eat Right for Your Sight cookbook here.

AMDF Supported Researcher Receives Award at ARVO 2017

Back in May, some members of our team attended the ARVO 2017 conference in Baltimore, MD. ARVO is The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and is the largest eye and vision research organization in the world, and the yearly conference is the largest gathering of those researchers and doctors.

Our mission in attending this yearly conference is to identify promising research and researchers that we might want to support, learn about what’s new in macular degeneration research and assistive technology, and raise awareness with doctors about our organization and how we can help them help their patients with information.

This year we had a bonus! We were there to see one of our supported researchers, Dr. Johanna Seddon, receive the Weisenfeld Award. Dr. Seddon of Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts Medical Center was named the 2017 recipient of the Mildred Weisenfeld Award for Excellence in Ophthalmology for her pioneering work on the interplay of nutritional, environmental and genetic risk factors in age-related macular degeneration.

Dr. Johanna Seddon ARVO 2017
From left to right: Paul Gariepy (AMDF), Chip Goehring (President of AMDF), Dr. Johanna Seddon and her husband.

Her studies of lifestyle factors have influenced clinical practice world-wide. Her discoveries of common and rare AMD genetic variants have provided targets for therapies. Her predictive modeling insights have laid the groundwork for personalized medicine. And some of you may recognize her from the Eat Right for Your Sight cookbook which was created in collaboration with Dr. Seddon.

“AMDF has provided broad support for Dr. Seddon’s research for a number of years,” said Chip Goehring, President, AMDF. “We’ve made such a strong investment in her studies because she produces findings that we, as individuals with macular degeneration, can apply to our lifestyle choices. And we are delighted that she co-authored our AMDF Cookbook – Eat Right for Your Sight. This award confirms what we already believed: she is doing life changing work.”

Dr. Seddon’s findings include:

15 different genetic variants, including some rare and highly penetrant genetic variants, which are strongly associated with AMD in families;
smoking increases risk of AMD, lutein and zeaxanthin (carotenoids) and dark green leafy vegetables in the diet reduce risk of AMD, omega-3 fatty acids, fish and nuts reduce risk, trans fats and abdominal obesity increase risk, and exercise reduces risk of macular degeneration; the development of comprehensive AMD risk prediction models and an on-line risk calculator.

Her current work is focused on identifying genetic associations and interactions with non-genetic risk factors and sub-phenotypes of the disease.

Congratulations Dr. Seddon!

Founder of Tip-n-Split, Connie Inukai

How inventing a product to help restaurant goers with aging eyesight led her to discovering Age-Related Macular Degeneration and inspired her to give back.

“I didn’t know about Macular Degeneration until I invented this product.”

Connie Inukai Founder Tip-n-Split

A few years ago, as she was approaching retirement, Connie Inukai found herself facing a challenge many do as they get older – reading small print in dimly lit restaurants. Instead of letting it go, she decided to find a solution. She set out to create a fun and useful product for restaurant goers who didn’t want to bring their smart phones to dinner.

The result is Tip-n-Split, a pocket sized magnifier, light, and calculator rolled into one.

Learning about AMD and Giving Back

In her journey to create Tip-n-Split and get it into the hands of people with diminishing eyesight, Connie started hearing about Macular Degeneration. Over and over it came up as she was meeting people at expos.

“So many people told me I could really use this, or my mom really needs this, she has Macular Degeneration. So many people seemed to have this, but I didn’t know anything about it, so I looked it up.”

Once Connie realized how many people were suffering from AMD, she wanted to make a contribution beyond the product. She reached out to us and let us know she wanted to give 10% of the proceeds from online sales to the cause of Macular Degeneration.

“At this stage in my life I want to start giving back.”

And she didn’t stop there. She sent us 12 Tip-n-Splits to give away as gifts. If you’d like to receive a Tip-n-Split for free, tell us about your Macular Degeneration solutions (or frustrating lack thereof) for reading the menu in dimly lit restaurants. We’ll send a Tip-n-Split to the first 12 commenters! Be sure to include your email so we can get in touch!

You can find out more about Connie and Tip-n-Split at www.tipandsplit.com.

**UPDATE: (December 12) Connie was so moved by your comments she sent us 12 more Tip-n-Splits to give away for a total of 24!

Behind the Scenes of AMDF’s 2017 Feast for the Eyes Calendar

On a sunny day back in May, a team of people came together to cook for, photograph, and design a calendar with delicious foods good for eye health.

Feast for the Eyes 2017 Eye Healthy Recipes for Macular Degeneration

Some key people from the team that developed the AMDF cookbook, Eat Right for Your Sight, came together to create the Feast for the Eyes calendar. Jennifer Trainer Thompson developed the recipes, guided by the groundbreaking research of Johanna M. Seddon, MD, ScM, one of America’s leading experts in the field of age-related macular degeneration.

Jennifer Trainer Thompson

Before the photo shoot got under way, Jennifer Trainer Thompson was on deck for prep and to help organize and oversee cooking of the recipes she had developed.

Catrine Kelty and Jody Fijal

Catrine Kelty (food stylist) reviews the order of recipes with Jody Fijal (food preparation). This was one of the few moments Jody wasn’t furiously cooking!

AMDF Calendar Photo Shoot

Jody and Susan tag-teaming clean-up between dishes.

AMDF Oysters on the Half Shell

Remnants from the Oysters on the Half Shell recipe (don’t worry, somebody ate them) which contains lutein and zeaxanthin, both good for eye health.

Feast for the Eyes Photo Shoot

Christian Goulette, photography assistant, making adjustments to the camera before a shot.

Photographing the AMDF Feast for the Eyes Calendar

Catrine arranges a dish for Joe Keller, photographer, while Christian makes tech adjustments in the background.

AMDF Feast for the Eyes Calendar Shoot

The team reviews how the shot looks on screen. Take a shot, review, make adjustments, rinse and repeat until it’s calendar worthy!

Blueberries | Foods good for eye health

Blueberries for the Spinach Watercress Salad, plates awaiting the Carrot Soufflé Dessert, and in the background, empty oyster shells. All foods good for eye health!

AMDF Eye Healthy Recipes Calendar

The last step in the day’s process… in an adjacent room, Hans Teensma (middle) takes the approved photos and puts together the design of the calendar while Chip Ghoehring (background), AMDF founder and president, looks on to offer feedback along with AMDF’s Paul Gariepy (foreground).

Foods for Macular Degeneration

Ok, the actual last step. Clean your plate!

The 2017 Feast for the Eyes Calendar is available in our shop or, through November [EDIT: now through December!], if you donate $100 or more to AMDF, we’ll send you the calendar as a gift [click here to donate]. Donations support AMDF in meeting the needs of those affected by age-related macular degeneration through education, supporting research and new technologies, and offering hope and resources to live, and even thrive, with the disease.

Inspiring Case History of Age-related Macular Degeneration

A Missionary’s Approach to AMD

Polly Brown takes an unusual approach to Age-related Macular Degeneration.  It isn’t an easy one, and she knows it isn’t for everyone. She believes it’s her job — perhaps even her right — to “be thankful in all circumstances.” That phrase is from the tail end of a letter from the Christian missionary Paul to people living in Thessalonica in the first century. Paul himself is thought to have suffered from vision problems — so much so that he mentions in another letter in the Bible that he knows his friends would give him their own eyes if they could. Whatever Paul’s story, Polly Brown takes his suggestion as — well — a bit of divine instruction.

Brown was diagnosed with Age-related Macular Degeneration in her left eye in 2006, after coming out of cataract surgery. She was 78. “It was kind of a shock because my first cataract surgery, in the right eye, was perfect,” she said recently in an interview. “I could see clearly. But the surgery for the left eye was funny. After the surgery there was this big mushroom-shaped floater that didn’t go away. That afternoon I was sent to a retinal specialist.”

Brown has been undergoing treatments for AMD in her good eye, to preserve her vision. The treatments are most recently at the Flaum Eye Institute at the University of Rochester in N.Y., near where she and her husband Ralph live. Every six weeks she receives an  injection of Avastin, the formula which inhibits the growth of abnormal blood vessels behind the eye, slowing or even stopping the progress of “wet” AMD.

Brown used to dread injections. “They’re not that painful — because the eye is numb,” she said. “But there’s some discomfort, with the eye clamped open. And for a few hours afterward, I’m crawling around with my eye all irritated and watering. Plus, dilated. I prefer afternoon appointments. At least then I don’t lose the whole day. I can go home and go to bed with a cold washcloth on my eye.”

The Browns were missionaries overseas since they were in their early 20s, having only moved to back to the United States in early retirement. Given their work, they know the Bible backward and forward. And Polly was well aware of that obscure bit about gratitude. At first —

“Be thankful for everything? Well, who can do that, all the time?” she said. “But I decided that, instead of dreading the monthly appointments, I was going to be thankful that there’s a treatment, and a specialist, and this research. Plus, I have insurance to pay for it. I go in with that attitude. You know, last time I went, the aftermath was not as bad.”

Another obviously good thing is that, due to the treatments, Brown has plenty of sight in that right eye. She can even read, especially under a bright light. She was thoroughly enjoying a P.G. Wodehouse novel when we interviewed her — one in a big stack of fiction, biographies, and Bible study books that has been a standard mix her whole life. At church she uses Kindle and large-print Bibles.

At 85, Brown does not see well enough to drive. But Ralph can drive, so they are well set to run errands or to see their five grown children (and seventeen grandchildren and six great-grandchildren … ). They moved to Rochester, NY, two years ago to live with one of their sons and his wife.

“While we’re still able to be independent, we’re well set if the time comes when we need more help,” Brown says. Even now their daughter-in-law often invites them for dinner, “especially on injection days.” (Although, when they stay home on those days, Ralph cooks. This is a new skill for him, Polly Brown notes wryly. “He has become very good at opening cans of beef stew.”)