Category Archives: Ehlers-Danlos

Computer Glasses Help Reduce Eyestrain & Neck Pain

Computer glasses can not only help reduce eyestrain but they also reduce neck pain at your desk.  Numerous factors need to be addressed to maximize your comfort and effectiveness while working at the computer.  Computer related eyestrain is especially common for those approaching their 50s and above.

When working at our computer we often find ourselves raising our chin to make the monitor clear.  This puts our neck in a very bad, uncomfortable position.  Everyone that experiences neck pain should see their eye doctor about computer glasses. A few minutes to read a quick email is not a problem, however the longer you spend in this position the worse it is for your eyes, your posture and your neck.  Computer glasses place your monitor in the proper focus allowing you to look directly at the monitor while still allowing you to view reading material at a normal reading distance.

Another important consideration while working at the computer is your blinking.  When we work at the computer we become so engrossed in what we are doing that our blink rate goes down which increases the symptoms of dry eye syndrome.  The video below gives a good summary of computer vision syndrome and computer glasses.

The Amazon Kindle as a Low Vision Device for the Visually Impaired

amazon-kindle2As with most doctors we are constantly on the lookout for items we feel may help our patients.  The Amazon kindle has been out for a few years now, however they recently upgraded it.  The Amazon Kindle, holds a lot of promise for patients that have poor vision as a result of macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, glaucoma or any ocular condition that impairs vision.

What I like the most about the Kindle, for patients with low vision, is that it uses a high resolution screen with very high contrast letters, black print on a white background, just like a book, however, most importantly you can increase the size of the letters.  Changing the font size is a great option for patients with impaired vision that want to read books.  As you can see in the photo the Kindle is about the size of a paperback book, however it is as thin as a pencil, weighing in at just over 10 ounces, which is less than a paperback book.

Most new bestseller books are about $10, however many books are less than that.  There are currently 250,000 titles in the Kindle library.  It takes about 60 seconds to download a book wirelessly with the included wireless network (using Sprint’s Cellular Data Network), no WiFi necessary.  The Kindle holds 1500 books, with your library backed up by Amazon, so if you have to make room for a book and years later want to reread it you just download it again at no charge.

I also like the kindle for patients that find it difficult to hold a heavy book or have a hard time turning the page such as those with MS or patients that have had a stroke.  The Kindle also has a text to speech option so it can even read to you.  Subscriptions to major newspapers are available as well.

Let me know what you think.  I would appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Dr. Diana Driscoll Speaks at the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation Meeting

Dr. Diana Driscoll spoke to doctors and patients at the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation Meeting (EDNF) in Houston, Texas August 1st and 2nd.  Her topic was Your Eyes and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.  Dr. Driscoll, herself is an Ehlers-Danlos Patient, therefore her lecture extended beyond the ocular effects of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and included some of the treatments and techniques that she has found to have increased her functionality.

The National EDNF Meeting is held every other year and is presented as an opportunity for patients with EDS, doctors and researchers to unite in their quest for answers to this debilitating condition.

Ehlers-Danlos affects multiple body systems requiring a multidisciplinary team of doctors to assist patients.  Physicians of many specialties were present as speakers, patients and attendees.

About Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is an inherited connective tissue disorder affecting our body’s production of collagen used to make connective tissue.   Connective tissue is the glue that holds our body together making up approximately 80% of our body weight.  The most common symptoms of EDS affect the joints and skin.

Skin symptoms are characterized by thin, soft, velvety skin that bruises easily and stretches.  Tearing of the skin is common along with slow wound healing.  Scars are often look like “cigarette paper”.

Joint symptoms include hyperextensible joints (joints that extend beyond their normal range of motion). People with hyperextensible joints have often been called “double jointed”.  Because the ligaments and tendons are “stretchy” the joints dislocate or become subluxated easily.  The premature onset of osteoarthritis is common and is often difficult to identify in an X-ray.

Some of the more common ocular symptoms of EDS are keratoconus, angioid streaks, and myopia.  EDS patients are not candidates for LASIK.  At Total Eye Care we are keenly aware of the potential complication that can result from any corneal surgeries performed on Ehlers-Danlos patients.

One of the most debilitating complications of EDS is a type of dysautonomia called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome or POTS.  Dysautonomia is the result of our autonomic nervous system ceasing to function properly.  Our autonomic nervous system regulates functions that our body does automatically such as digestion, breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, blood sugar regulation, hormonal/endocrine imbalances and our  sleep cycle.

Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia causes a person’s heart to race when they stand still.  When a normal person stands, their heart rate may go up a few beats per minute and stabilize. A POTS patient’s heart rate will go up over 30 beats per minute.  If their body can not compensate, a POTS patient will often faint or shake uncontrollably.  A tilt table is used to test for POTS.

It is estimated that 40% to 70% of EDS patients suffer from POTS.  Many patients with POTS don’t know that they have EDS and are often mis-diagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.  It is thought that autonomic dysfunction is caused by instability of the cervical spine thus interfering with the brain stem’s ability to regulate our bodies.

The classification system for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome consists of 6 types; Classical, Hypermobile, Vascular, Kyphoscoliosis, Arthrochalasia, Dermatosparaxis.  The prevalence of EDS is approximately 1 in 3000.  EDS affects both males and females and is not specific regarding race or ethnicity.

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a genetic disorder, however many patients, such as Dr. Driscoll, are unaffected until the symptoms are triggered by a virus.

An updated version of Your Eyes and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is now available, with color photos, on Amazon.com as a downloadable eBook.

This entry has been cross posted on The Total Eye Care Website.

Dr. Diana Driscoll To Speak Before the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation National Meeting

Dr. Diana DriscollAs many of you may know Dr. Diana Driscoll is on medical disability due to the autonomic nervous system complications from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and has not seen patients in the office since August of 2004. In the course of her research trying to find what was making her ill she accumulated considerable knowledge in Ehlers-Danlos and the complications associated with it. Dr. Driscoll has been asked to share her knowledge at the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation Meeting in Houston July 31st – Aug 2.

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a connective tissue disorder that affects multiple systems and organs. EDS, as it is called by patients that have it, has numerous different types. The most common types of EDS are classical and hypermobile. Another, rarer type called the vascular form, is the most dangerous because it involves weakening of the blood vessels which may rupture (an aneurysm), which is often fatal.

The most common symptoms of EDS are hyper-flexible joints (people sometimes refer to this as “being double Jointed”) that are flexible beyond the normal range of movement, skin that is very stretchy, soft, bruises easily and is sometimes fragile (tears easily). EDS patients often complain of joint pain that may be mistaken for arthritis, yet the x-rays are not consistent with arthritis.

The most debilitating complication of EDS is a type of dysautonomia called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome or POTS. Dysautonomia is the result of our autonomic nervous system ceasing to function properly. Our autonomic nervous system regulates functions that our body does automatically such as digestion, breathing, heart rate, blood pressure etc. It is estimated that 40 to 70% of EDS patients suffer from POTS. Many patients with POTS don’t know that they have EDS and are often mis-diagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. It is thought that autonomic dysfunction is caused by instability of the cervical spine thus interfering with the brain stem.

The medical literature reports that the incidence of EDS is approximately 1 in 10-14,000, however doctors report seeing it clinically more frequently. It is hypothesized that once doctors are made more aware of how to diagnose EDS that the reported incidence will be more like 1 in 3-5000 people.

Once doctors become more aware of how to identify patients with EDS I believe that the incidence reported in the general public will rise markedly. I have personally identified numerous patients in our practice that have EDS and concur with the incidence of 1 in 3-5000. I, in fact, would not be surprised if it was indeed more common than 1 in 3000.

UPDATE: An updated and expanded version is now available on Amazon.com, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: Your Eyes and EDS.

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