June 15th, 2024

Giving a potential eye remedy a shot


By Lethbridge Herald on May 24, 2024.

LEAVE IT TO BEEBER
Al Beeber – Managing editor

After working most of the long weekend, I figured the mind would be sharp and I’d have plenty of fodder for a column this week.

But this could be the ultimate dud because this dude is out of gas and out of inspiration.

I tried to find that inspiration in the coulees walking the pups last weekend, hoping casual conversations with people I came across might inspire me.

 I thought I’d find it dog-sitting Kona the Saint Bernard. But alas, I just got sleepy watching her get exhausted walking a block. 

But Kona and I are old pals so it was a pleasure giving her belly rubs and yawning together on her family’s lawn for a day. Kona is truly my spirit animal – drool, lay down, get energetic for 10 seconds, lay down again.

I also figured the racetrack might provide some fodder because that used to be where I’d run into some old faces from Raymond. And I did see one – my old neighbour Rick Bassett and his wife Carrie which made a rainy day much brighter. But it was strange standing at the paddock because missing was a familiar face I’d always see the odd time I was at the Rocky Mountain Turf Club in recent years to shoot races – Darcy Ralph. Darcy was one of the truly nice people in this world with a kind word to say about everyone. And I always looked forward to catching up with him.

But on Sunday even with the rain keeping most race fans inside for at least the early race, the fence by the paddock looked even emptier without Darcy leaning on the rails. It was just a really odd sensation.

I made another connection with Raymond this week in the form of a reader who actually left a message Friday that I missed regarding my column on floaters. She made a suggestion that I’ve followed up on – bilberry supplements which the caller used for a year and she hasn’t endured floaters since.

I did some in-depth research and even on legitimate health websites there seems to be compelling evidence that bilberry – which resembles a small blueberry and is native to northern areas of Canada, the U.S., Europe and Asia – may provide some relief for eye ailments. From what I’ve read it’s been used since the Middle Ages for some medicinal purposes. 

I’m the last person who would ever start advocating for some quack remedy but bilberry really caught my attention.

According to mountsinai.org – the website for the highly regarded Mount Sinai Health System in New York – while studies are lacking, “bilberry has been suggested as a treatment for retinopathy because anthocyanosides appear to help protect the retina. Bilberry has also exhibited protective effects against macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.” 

The website also notes anthocyanosides “may strengthen blood vessels, improve circulation and prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, a major risk for atherosclerosis (plaque that blocks blood vessels, leading to heart attack and strokes.” 

It notes that more search is needed on this, though.

That website says bilberry is rich in tannins “which have anti-inflammatory properties and may help control diarrhea,” just in case that might be an issue with some readers. Apparently, bilberry can have some side effects because after an extended period of time those tannins can cause weight weight loss, muscle spasms and even death.

Obviously, that’s a bit of a downer because death is irreversible. So caution is clearly needed from what I’ve read in various locations.

But with the frustration I’m having with the floaters, I’m giving the stuff a try for a few months to see if it does make a difference. I’m cautiously optimistic given my research that there could be some light at the end of the regularly obscured tunnel and I’m slightly hopeful the stuff will provide some relief.

I’ve also read where bilberry supplements could be linked to improved long-term and working memory in older adults which is also intriguing given that I fit into that category – that working memory which would have come in handy last Friday before work when I readied myself to cover the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding at the University of Lethbridge for the new rural medical training centre that’s being established.

Figuring I needed to be at the top of my game, I did my best Larry King imitation before I left the house, realizing only a couple of hours later enroute to the U of L I forgot to put in my upper partial denture, leaving a gaping hole in my face – about the size of a Leaf goalie’s five-hole.

With no time to rush home, I just did my best to keep my mouth shut for the hour-long event hoping nobody would notice while praying my tie wasn’t sticking out through my fly –  which wouldn’t have surprised me at all on Friday – as I shot photos and scribbled notes. So maybe this bilberry thing can help in other ways, too.

Have a great weekend! Which we all know will finally have the weather we all wanted when most people had three days off.

Cheers!

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