Welcome to our OPMD (Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy) Community!
Our mission at Ben’s Friends is to ensure that patients living with rare diseases or chronic illnesses, as well as their caregivers, family, and friends, have a safe and supportive place to connect with others like them.
This is an online support group for patients, friends and families affected by OPMD. OPMD (Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy) is one of several types of muscular dystrophy (MD). MD is a group of genetic, degenerative diseases primarily affecting voluntary muscles. Although named for the muscles first affected, the eyelids (oculo) and throat (pharyngeal), OPMD also can affect facial and limb muscles. OPMD symptoms usually appear during adulthood most, often between 40 and 60 years of age. Although OPMD is a progressive disease, its progression is usually fairly slow. There is no cure for OPMD, but there are a number of therapies, surgeries, and corrective devices such as “crutch eyeglasses” that can help patients cope with this disease. There are also a number of drug therapies on the horizon that may offer relief from some symptoms.
The Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center of The National Institutes of Health are an excellent source of rare disease information. Their OPMD information can be found here.
Ben’s Friends’ LivingWithOPMD.org is a virtual community intended to be a safe place for patients and family members as young as age 12, to visit for information, discussion, venting and mutual support. Members come from many backgrounds. Some have a strong religious faith, and others no faith; some are children and others adults, rich and poor, graduate educated or taught by life. Our common denominators are that we share a life journey, and we try to help each other.
Though we get occasional visits from medical doctors, the site is not routinely supported by medical professionals. Nobody here can diagnose you or tell you what your treatment choices “should” be. We might inform your choices by sharing individual experiences and information developed by study as lay people. But LivingWithOPMD.org is not intended to replace the advice or treatment of licensed medical professionals. Readers should validate any information they take away from here, against the experience of a licensed medical doctor. Site owners and moderators are not legally responsible for the accuracy of information shared on the site.
We don’t want you to identify yourself or tell exactly where you live: it is important to us that you should be anonymous here. That encourages openness. (And that’s a major way that we’re different from social media and other disease support sites.) Nevertheless, visitors should also be aware that our discussion forums and groups are publicly accessible and frequently searched by Google. That’s why your speech here should be considered “public”. If you’re tempted to write something about another person that you wouldn’t say to their face, then we counsel you to think first. Speech can be consequential.
Ben’s Friends’ LivingWithOPMD.org is supported by unpaid volunteer moderators who validate and register new members and monitor ongoing discussions, photo postings and blogs. Very often, moderators are themselves patients or family members of patients. Most of the time, moderators tend to keep a low profile, except in their roles as members of the community, especially if they are well-informed about the state of medicine and research.