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Let This Bell Tower Rock Your Face

Good morning, everybody!

I woke up this morning before the sun’s alarm went off, and the lights of the city were still gleaming beautifully.  It put me in such an amazing mood.  I hope that I can pass some of this great mood onto you all this morning!

Here’s a start – check out this clock tower, smack in the center of Prague, that just celebrated its 600th birthday.  Mapping company Macula mapped the clock with animations, while sound company Data-Live created the soundscape.  Tomato Production handled all of the site’s production needs.  Prepare to get rocked.

The 600 Years from the macula on Vimeo.

TAKE THAT, Retina! Fovea THIS!

Hey, you wanna see the inside of my eye?  No, really.  The inside of my eye.

I’M SERIOUS!

Check it out:

right-color-jimonlight

That’s the freaking inside of my right eye – you’re looking at my right retina, optic nerve, macula, and fovea – and a ton of vessels in the background and foreground.  Obviously by now you’ve determined that the tree looking things in the bottom of the picture are my eyelashes.  Check it out in black and white – around the macula you can see a weird pattern or reflection of some kind – it looks like a lizard eye staring at you!

Oh, is that just me? [awkward]

right-bw-jimonlight

Do you know what the heck I’m talking about?  Fovea, macula, retina, etcetera?

If you know all of this already, I am glad to tell you again!

The retina is easy – it’s the large part in the picture.  The retina is the back of your eyeball, which contains the light and color receptors (rods and cones, respectively) that the brain uses to tell what’s going on visually.  It has blood vessels and stuff like that wound into it so that it can get food and oxygen to the parts of the eye that need it.

The macula and fovea are an interesting part of your eye.  When you hear of “macular degeneration” and people having problems with their visual focus, this is often something to be considered.  Check out the left eye – the macula is the spot in the picture below that looks like a violin body, or the mark on the thorax of a Black Widow spider, kind-of.  Inside of that is the fovea, which is the central point of focus in our vision:

left-zoom-fovea-jimonlight

and even better in black and white:

left-bw-zoom-fovea-jimonlight

That thing – the fovea – it’s a dip in the retina filled with rod and cone cells, and the center of it is the concentration of human visual acuity, or focus.  Around half of the information the optic nerve carries to the brain is from the fovea.  The detailed vision spot – when it is damaged, focus goes away.  The bright spot is the optic nerve going to the brain, sending messages of everything you see.

The macula is the kind-of yellow-y area surrounding the fovea and containing the fovea – the fovea is essentially the center of the macula.

I always equated the process of sending the images from the eye to the brain like sending a RAW file.

Check out a color shot of my left eye:

left-color-jimonlight

followed by the black and white:

left-BW-jimonlight

Here’s another term – ischemia.  This is a reason to lose weight and be healthy for anyone.  An ischemia is a complete lack of blood flow to a portion of the body, and that starved portion dies.  Here’s a little game I’ll play – somewhere in one of my eyes I have an ischemia from an old high blood pressure episode.  Think you know what it looks like?  The first person between now and December 31 who correctly locates the ischemia, I’ll send you a $10 Amazon gift certificate.  You have to highlight the ischemia in one of the pictures in this post and email me your guess.

The human body is full of wonder, isn’t it?

British Doctors Tell Age-Related Macular Degernation to Suck It

Have you ever heard of age-related macular degeneration, or AMD?  Do you suffer from AMD?  It is a common form of blindness, and as you get older (hence the age related part), your macula starts to degenerate (hence the degeneration part) and you lose your detail vision.  This sucks, as there hasn’t been much that people can do about it happening until lately.  It’s not a cure per se, but it’s a new technique that doctors are saying might be able to help re-generate part of the macula that needs a bit of wakey-wakey-eggs-and-bakey.

By stimulating a part of the eye called the Bruch’s Membrane, scientists in the UK have been able to slow down degeneration of the macula, and in some cases stop it altogether.  Using a laser to “breathe some life” into the membrane, scientists have been able to wake it up a bit so that it continues to perform its function and not just sit there like a dunce.  The laser treatment takes about ten to fifteen minutes.  Crazy, huh?

Oh yeah – “hey Jim, what is the Bruch’s Membrane, and what does it do?

Bruch’s Membrane is a part of the eye behind the retina, between the retina.  Bruch’s Membrane performs a very, very important function – it removes waste products from the retina and brings in nutrients and oxygen.  You’d think that’s pretty important, huh?  Check out an eye diagram:

detail1

Bruch’s Membrane is part of the Choroid, which lives behind the retina.  When it doesn’t do its job, waste products just build up around the macula and the cells begin to die over time.  The laser treatment targets this membrane to hopefully stimulate it so it starts to perform its waste removal function:

eyesight

From the article I read about this procedure in the Daily Mail:

The technique is the brainchild of Professor John Marshall, an ophthalmologist at King’s College London who pioneered laser surgery to correct shortsightedness.

Professor Marshall, who hopes the treatment could be available in a couple of years, said: ‘It is really exciting news. It won’t bring back damaged eyesight but it may prevent AMD.’

The technique rejuvenates the ‘Bruch’s membrane’ – a thin layer that lies behind the retina.

This provides the retina’s light-sensitive cells with nutrients and removes waste created as a by-product of the way retina cells renew themselves.

But the membrane’s cells eventually lose the ability to take waste away, allowing deposits to build up.

It can then become so damaged that the retina’s lightsensitive cells start to die off. In a trial involving more than 100 diabetics, Professor Marshall found that using a laser stimulated the membrane’s tired, ageing cells into action.

After the cells were ‘ energised’ by the laser, they began to clean up the waste again.

Patients also said the treatment led to a ‘ marked improvement’ in their sight.

The non-invasive operation uses a laser modified to give pulses of light that do not damage the eye’s light-sensitive cells or cause any dangerous heating of the target area.

Professor Marshall will now treat up to 200 people with AMD in one eye as part of a second trial. Such patients usually get the disease in the other eye within three years.

He wants to see if the laser prevents the good eye losing its sight. ‘If you can delay the onset by three, four, six, seven or ten years, it’s proof of the principle,’ he said.

Tom Pey, of Guide Dogs for the Blind, which funded the research, said: ‘This is potentially a huge breakthrough for millions. The science behind it is proven.’

The Macular Disease Society said: ‘If this works, then it’s very exciting. However, it will be years before this could be ready for use.’

Let’s hope we read more about this in the very near future!