Glaucoma affects nearly 60 million people worldwide, and while there isnâ€™t a cure, recent studies suggest that adopting a few some lifestyle changes may have a positive effect on eye pressure, which is a major risk factor for the disease.
Regular exercise. A recent study showed that people who engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity have a 73 percent lower risk of developing glaucoma. Blood flow and pressure inside the eye may change with exercise, which may affect glaucoma risk.
Eat More Leafy Greens. Another study showed that people who ate more leafy vegetables have a 20 to 30 percent lower risk of developing glaucoma. Nitrates in green vegetables can be converted to nitric oxide, which can improve blood flow and help regulate pressure inside the eye.
Enjoy a Cup of Tea. Consuming tea and supplementing with magnesium have also been linked with benefits for glaucoma.
Brush and FlossDonâ€™t Smoke. If not just to lower the risk of glaucoma, then for the myriad of other health concerns linked to smoking.
Maintain a Healthy Weight. Being overweight can be a direct route to diabetes and other health issues including diabetes-related eye maladies.
Reduce Stress. Good for your eyes as well as your ticker.
The demands of a high stress career can take a toll, and when you arenâ€™t able to recharge your batteries in your time off, burnout can set in. Studies have shown that hobbies and interests away from the office can help fend off burnout and help lead to a sense of fulfillment.
So what are the signs that you might be heading down the path to burnout?
- A perpetual feeling of exhaustion, both physical and emotional
- Forgetfulness or impaired concentration
- A reduced sense of accomplishment or feeling that you your work is meaningless
- Depersonalization or developing a cynical attitude toward patients and their concerns
- Increased illness
- Depression and/or anxiety
Fighting back against burnout can be as easy as developing an interest outside the office.
Hiking, running, golf or bicycling works for many who find physical activity enjoyable helps them reduce stress. Finding an artistic outlet such as painting, photography or woodcraft works for many as well. The important thing is to find something you enjoy, and that gives you a sense of accomplishment. And then making sure you set aside the time on a regular basis to engage in your chosen activity. The time you spend unwinding will pay dividends in the long run back in the office.
Blindness can be one of the terrible effects of advanced diabetes. And while there are treatments, they are often invasive and painful. Researchers at Caltech are working on a new, gentler treatment in the form of glowing contact lenses.
When diabetics lose their vision, its because the disease damages tiny blood vessels in the eye, reducing blood flow to nerve cells in the retina, starving them of oxygen. The body compensates by growing new blood vessels in the retina, but diabetes often causes these to be imperfectly formed, damaging the retina. That damage is repaired via the growth of scar tissue instead of new nerve cells so the patient loses their sight.
Existing treatments center around reducing the retina’s oxygen demands, such as using a laser to burn away nerve cells in the peripheral part of the retina so the oxygen used by them can instead now be used by nerve cells in the retina’s more important central area.
Another approach involves giving the patient an injection in the eyeball, introducing medication that reduces the growth of new blood vessels.
Yet another approach uses lighted eye masks to illuminate the retina while the patient sleeps which causes the retina’s rod cells, which provide vision in low-light conditions, to remain inactive. Ordinarily, when we make things dark by closing our eyes, the rod cells become very active, consuming about twice as much oxygen as they do in bright conditions. Unfortunately, patients found the masks interrupted sleep as they saw flickers of light every time they moved their eyes.
Thatâ€™s where the contact lenses come in.
Developed by a Caltech team led by graduate student Colin Cook, they incorporate tiny vials of tritium that emits electrons, which are converted into light by a phosphorescent coating. The vials are arranged on each lens in a ring, which lies outside of the wearer’s vision. When they shut their eyes and the pupil expands, however, the glow emitted by the vials is detected by the rod cells, keeping them from firing up.
“If we turn metabolism in the retina down, we should be able to prevent some of the damage that occurs,” Cook says.
In early tests of the lenses, they were found to reduce rod cell activity by up to 90 percent when worn in the dark. And unlike the lights in the sleep masks, the glowing vials in the lenses move with the user’s eyes, so they don’t see the sleep inhibiting flickers of light. The team now plans on conducting research to determine if that reduction in activity will result in the prevention of diabetic retinopathy.
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If a child is having trouble reading, itâ€™s only logical for parents to bring them in for a vision check. And if the child shows 20/20 vision, itâ€™s logical to conclude the problem might originate somewhere besides the eyes. But that may not be the case, according to a recent study of Canadian children published in the Journal of Optometry.
Dr. Lisa Christian from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, and colleagues performed a retrospective review of these children who had all had complete eye exams. These children also had Individual Education Plans (IEP) specifically directed at improving their reading abilities.
The authors found that while most of the children had good eyesight, a substantial proportion had binocular vision that was below the normal limits on testing, so the children may have experienced blurred images, poor depth perception, or double vision among other problems when they read.
Such problems can result from a variety of conditions, such as misaligned eyes, or poor functioning of the oculomotor muscles. A person with such problems will typically have difficulty reading â€” they may lose their place easily and develop eyestrain.
So when there is an issue with a child’s learning to read, it could be important to determine whether eye problems other than myopia are the cause.
Blue light, also known as high-energy visible (HEV) light, is a type of light with short wavelengths emitting a higher energy. The sun is the biggest source of blue light, but we also get exposure from TVs, computers, smartphones and tablets. And a large majority of children and adults are staring at those screens for more than 2 hours every day.
Blue light penetrates deep into the eye, and studies suggest a connection between exposure to blue light and retinal damage, macular degeneration and cataracts. Blue light can also suppress the natural release of melatonin, disrupting sleep.
Fighting back against blue light
In addition to blue light exposure, those screens are causing a few other pains for the digitally bedazzled. An increase in eyestrain, dry eyes, headaches, blurred vision and neck and shoulder pain have all been attributed to our screen addiction.
Eyewear is available with lenses featuring blue light-filtering capabilities that reduce the negative effects of blue light as well as anti-reflective or anti-glare properties. This technology can help minimize the negative effects blue light has on the bodyâ€™s circadian rhythm, which can hinder a good nightâ€™s sleep as well as reduce the symptoms of digital eyestrain.
Regular breaks from the screen and limiting the amount of time spent eyeballing a smartphone can help, too. And itâ€™s probably a good idea to put the screens away at least an hour before bedtime, to help ensure a good nightâ€™s sleep.