What is Rod-Cone Dystrophy?
This hereditary vision condition is explained pretty well in it’s title. Dystrophy is the medical term for degeneration, to waste away. In Muscular Dystrophy the muscles degenerate; whereas in Rod-Cone Dystrophy it is the rods and cones that degenerate.
What Are Rods and Cones?
In the retina (the part of the eye that turns light into visual signals) the rods are responsible for seeing in dim light and for seeing motion. The cones which are the closely packed photoreceptor cells in the center of the retina are, on the other hand, responsible for seeing color and fine detail.
What Can I Do About This Condition?
So far this is pretty straight-forward. If you have diagnosed with this condition you have undoubtedly been told you should expect a degeneration of your night vision and a degeneration of your ability to see color and fine detail and that there is nothing much you can do about it.
However, we would like to suggest that the “Use It Or Lose It” Rule applies here too. If you continue to stimulate and strengthen your rods and cones we believe you can stave off this degeneration. We know this from working with clients and from our own personal experience. Will was born with Retinitis Pigmentosa and Richard with Optic Atrophy. We have used eye exercises to strengthen those areas of our vision that were weak. So you see, what you can do about this diagnosis is pretty straight-forward too: Use your rods and cones!
Strengthen Rod Cells
If you don’t use your rod cells because you are never in the dark, how can we expect them to fully function when we need them to? This is relevant for everyone; not just those of us with eye conditions that make it difficult to see in the dark. Will trains his eyes to adapt to the dark by not turning on the lights immediately when he enters a room. If he is looking for his keys, he leaves the light off. Similarly, as the sun sets he will wait as long as possible before turning on the lights. He also goes on night walks. Since his neighborhood is pretty safe, he can go for walks when it’s dark, allowing the rods to be as active as possible.
The second technique for strengthening the rods is performing eye exercises in the dark with flashing lights. These exercises can be found on our website under Peripheral Vision Eye Exercises. By stimulating the rods with movement and dim light you are helping to activate those weaker cells even more. You can even do these exercises before going on a night walk or before going anywhere that is dark to help activate the rods ahead of time.
Straighten Cone Cells
The cone cells which are found primarily in a small area of the retina called the macula are responsible for sending clear crisp colorful images. These cone cells desire maximum amount of light in order to function at their best and for you to see clearer.
We can explain this visual process by using a solar panel as an analogy. As the light comes into contact with the solar panel, the light is converted into electricity which is then taken to a place to be stored or used immediately. If there is not much sunlight, then we get less energy and power.
In our everyday lives the macula is regularly underused because we ignore fine details in our surroundings and we tend to avoid bright light. The Sunning and Shifting Eye Exercises found on our website activate the cones and retrain the brain to look at smaller and smaller details, making the eyesight clearer.
Tip of the Week: Adjusting to Bright Light and to Darkness
In the Tip of the Week Will and Richard give some simple techniques for adjusting to bright light when you are bothered by it (photo phobia) and adjusting to dark environments as you enter them.