(BPT) – Managing diabetes can be overwhelming. Between remembering to take your medications every day and carefully watching your diet and blood sugar levels, it can be hard to feel like you’re in control of your disease and not the other way around. And even when you think you’re on top of it all, there are other complications of diabetes that can be forgotten or placed on the back burner, such as eye disease.
Estimates show that one in ten U.S. adults with diabetes have some form of visual impairment. For example, uncontrolled blood sugar levels can cause damage to blood vessels in the macula, a region of the retina located at the back of the eye. This area is important for the sharp, straight-ahead vision we need to read, recognize faces, and even drive our cars. These blood vessels can leak fluid and swell, resulting in diabetic macular edema (DME), an eye disease that has the potential to cause severe vision loss and even blindness. Common symptoms of DME include the appearance of blurry or wavy vision, and can happen at any stage of diabetes.
Rosa lived with diabetes for 30 years before she was diagnosed with DME.
‘The vision in my right eye had been blurry, and it was making it harder to do the word search puzzles I enjoy. I knew I had to do something before my vision got worse, so I made an appointment with a retina specialist, who gave me a dilated eye exam. I was surprised when he told me that I had blood and fluid in my eye and diagnosed me with DME.’
The good news is early detection and treatment of DME may help protect your eyes against vision loss. Rosa now encourages others to visit their eye doctor regularly.
‘Seeing is important-you only have two eyes so you have to watch them, especially if you have diabetes. That’s why I have a dilated eye exam every six months. If something’s not right, I want to know about it as soon as possible so that I can do something about it.’
This Diabetes Awareness Month, put your eyes first and schedule a visit with your eye doctor for a yearly dilated eye exam. For more information on DME and how to help protect against vision loss visit www.DiabetesSightRisk.com.
*Rosa was compensated for her participation in the Regeneron DME Patient EYE Ambassador Program.
**Disease information was sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Correctable Visual Impairment Among Persons with Diabetes) and the National Eye Institute (Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease).
* Alternating Feet Tai Chi Chuan form, bird’s eye view, left side – 11/16/08 (Autumn)
I’m always looking for ways to exercise in a very limited amount of space (like in front of my TV, or in front of my computer monitor), and improve my tai chi skills at the same time.
In the evenings, several hours after dinnertime, I usually watch TV, or browse the Internet, or watch DVDs or YouTube videos on my computer monitor. Instead of sitting down all that time while watching a movie, or a TV show, or news program, I try to make use of this time in front of a monitor to do some exercises (preferably related to Tai Chi). Burn calories. Keep my joints flexible. Circulate chi throughout my body. Stay strong, healthy, and fit. Don’t gain weight as I get older. Don’t become obese (with all the attendant consequences of greater susceptibility to degenerative diseases, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high glycemic index, diabetes, etc). Keep expensive doctors away.
I find that Prof. Cheng Manching’s 37 Posture Tai Chi Chuan Form
lends itself to many compact variations which I can do in a very limited amount of space (like in front of my TV, or computer).
Many of the exercises I do regularly require only a few feet of floor space, just enough to position my feet in a 70/30 forward stance, or in a feet-parallel, shoulder-width stance. Or a wide horse stance. Or a heels together V-feet stance.
I especially like the 70/30 forward stance, the basic posture used in Tai Chi Push Hands practice
In this particular adaptation of the 37 Posture Tai Chi Chuan form, I constantly alternate my feet from right leg forward to left leg forward. During many postures, 70% of my body weight shifts onto the forward leg; other times, the forward leg remains “empty,” like during Crane Spreads Wings, or Play Guitar, or Separate Feet.
By doing the entire sequence of the 37 Posture Tai Chi Chuan form while shifting my weight back and forth and alternating my feet, I practice powering each movement in the form from either the right leg, or from the left leg; from either the back leg, or from the front leg.
Prof. Cheng Manching was very nimble and light on his feet. This aspect of his tai chi mastery is clearly evident in this video, where he is fencing with a female student:
For an old man, notice how easily he moves his feet and maintains his balance while moving quickly around the room – – almost like a ballroom dancer! This agility comes from practicing the tai chi sword form for many years, and fencing with many partners.
If one does not have the opportunity to practice the sword form (which requires a lot of space), and if one does not have any partners with whom to fence, the compact “alternating feet” Tai Chi Chuan form is a good method to develop nimble footwork.
Often, if one practices fixed-feet push hands without doing any kind of sword work, one becomes too “stuck” or “rooted” in the ground, and forgets that moving one’s feet is a major component of tai chi practice. The Yang style tai chi two-person “bandying” exercise is another training technique which stresses nimble foot adjustments to various types of incoming force, allowing the practitioner to flow with and around the force, and not resist it. If one does not have an opportunity to practice either sword fencing, or moving-feet push hands with many partners, or Ta Lu, or the two-person bandying exercise, then this “alternating feet” tai chi form can help train fluidity of movement while transferring weight from one stance to another, all in a very limited amount of practice space.
The beauty of this form is that it can be repeated over and over while facing straight ahead. I can do this form for several hours while watching TV without having to look away from the screen. I can even read articles on my large computer monitor, and still continue practicing this form, without moving my eyes off the screen.
Usually, while watching TV, I either practice some variation of this “alternating feet” form, or I repeat individual postures on both the left and right sides of my body in continuous loops, to develop symmetry of response from either side of my body.
I have already posted some videos of individual tai chi postures practiced within the context of an alternating 70/30 forward stance. Please see:
Push & Press
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